The Pentagon has performed a study or two that found each of its acquisition programs will have to spend about $90 million to comply with the recently passed defense acquisition reform bill, sponsored by Senators Carl Levin and John McCain.
I understand several people at the meeting laughed when told this figure, guessing that if this is the official estimate at this early stage then the actual costs will be a heck of lot higher. Much of that cost would apparently result from prototyping, which is required by the bill.
Since Winslow Wheeler at the Center for Defense Information knows budgets, cost estimates and legislation as well as just about anybody, I checked with him to see what he thought of this. Wheeler is already on record as a critic of the bill -- "...the fine print of the new law is hopelessly riddled with loopholes to protect business as usual..." -- but not on cost grounds.
"Just what is it that they claim will cost all that? Competitive prototyping? Or what? However, I would like to see the studies, the SASC/HASC reaction, and then send it all to GAO to see if there is any legitimate basis. I certainly assume these heroic critics are willing to testify to Congress," Wheeler said. "Bottom line: show me the studies; make them prove it."
The gauntlet is thrown. Buzz readers who can slip us a copy of a study on this win our undying gratitude and a special place in the nation's acquisition lore.