MCCAIN 1, ARMY 0

That didn't take long. Less than a month ago, Sen. John McCain started raising a stink about the Army's see-no-evil oversight of Future Combat Systems, its mammoth, $127 billion plus modernization project. Today, the Senator got what he wanted. Army Secretary Francis Harvey agreed to start treating the biggest technology development program in Army history like a real defense contract -- and less like the purchase of a couple of off-the-shelf PCs.Mortar2004-10-19.jpgFor reasons that remain unclear (but sure smell fishy) the Army made a deal with FCS' lead contractors, Boeing and SAIC, under Federal Acquisition Regulation 12. That rule lets the government buy everyday items, like commercially-available software, without having to fill out a pile of forms.But it also means that contractors "are relieved of the obligation to [give] cost and purchasing data to military auditors," McCain told Harvey at a Senate Armed Service Committee hearing last March. In a program as massive as FCS -- and as crucial to the Army's next generation -- that kind of oversight can't be optional, McCain said."Now, Harvey and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker will review the program at least three times each year," Inside Defense says. And the FCS contract will be renegotiated under more standard terms, which will include items like "the Truth in Negotiation Act; the Procurement Integrity Act; Cost Accountability Standards; and an organizational conflicts-of-interest clause. These regulations were not part of the current agreement," according to the Seattle Times.Hopefully, now that Harvey's giving himself the power to supervise FCS like it should, he'll take the opportunity to ask Boeing and SAIC execs a question or two about the program's skyrocketing costs, missed deadlines, and shifting priorities."We'll probably, without getting into the details, give the LSI (Boeing) some more incentives to control costs," Harvey tells Reuters.Since the bill for FCS has grown from $92 billion to a possible $450 billion in less than a year, those incentives should probably a brick. Or a couple of two-by-fours.

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