Our country’s national defense should never take a back seat to private special interests. But too often it does, putting our nation’s servicemen and women at risk, and elevating the agendas of defense contractors ahead of legitimate national security needs. POGO investigates wasteful military spending, the cozy relationship between defense contractors and procurement officials, and malfunctioning weapons systems in order to draw attention to those cases where our national security has been compromised by greed, and in many cases, sheer incompetence. Click on the program areas below to learn more.
A-10 Warthog Aircraft
Despite widespread acclaim by the pilots who fly them, the Air Force brass has repeatedly tried to kill the unglamorous A-10 Warthog program. POGO has and will continue to defend this highly effective and relatively inexpensive aircraft.
Originally conceived in the 1960s as a long-range conventional bomber, the B-1 has been plagued in recent years by a skyrocketing price tag and technical difficulties, while its key requirements have been reduced. The B-1 may no longer be as relevant given its more cost effective alternatives. As the B-1 nears the end of its service life, The Air Force is planning for the integration of next-generation long-range bombers
The most expensive airplane ever built, the B-2 bomber is a perfect example of what the malfunctioning defense acquisition system tends to produce: tremendously expensive and complex weapons in quantities much smaller than originally intended. POGO is also concerned that the B-2’s most distinguishing characteristic, its ability to evade enemy radar, has proven to be unreliable.
Ballistic Missile Defense
Currently the single most expensive weapons system in the Pentagon’s annual budget, the U.S. missile defense program utilizes a questionable acquisition strategy that involves researching, procuring, fielding, testing, and evaluating missile defense assets all at once, making it difficult to ensure that taxpayer dollars are well spent. While POGO does not take a position, pro or con, on missile defense, we believe there needs to be better oversight, testing, and financial accountability in the missile defense program.
Black Hawk Helicopter
Systemic quality control problems at the defense contractor Sikorsky Aircraft have led to defective parts on the Black Hawk helicopter, an aviation workhorse that is prevalent throughout most of the armed services. POGO has argued that Sikorsky should make publicly available the production inspection records for the Black Hawk.
Boeing Tanker Leasing Deal
POGO and its congressional allies uncovered a major Air Force sweetheart deal that would have given Boeing a sole-source leasing contract for tanker aircraft worth tens of billions dollars, much more than it would have cost to simply buy the aircraft. Darleen Druyun, for years the top Air Force procurement official, was discovered to have steered this deal and others to Boeing while negotiating for a higher-paying executive position at the company. Druyun and a top Boeing executive were given prison sentences for attempting to bilk the taxpayer.
C-130J Transport Aircraft
Since its inception in the mid-1990s, the C-130J transport aircraft program has proven to be problematic for U.S. taxpayers. After the Pentagon threatened to cut the program in 2004, the program’s boosters in Congress and Lockheed Martin, the contractor, began a massive disinformation campaign about the alleged need for the aircraft. In 2006, following POGO’s recommendation, the Air Force decided to restructure the C-130J contract, saving taxpayers millions of dollars.
The C-17 is a four-engine cargo jet designed for intercontinental airlift of large “outsize” payloads to short landing strips in remote areas of the world. In December 2000, the Air Force proposed a possibly illegal arrangement to declare Boeing’s C-17 a “commercial item”--even though the government is the only purchaser of this plane. The result would have been reduced financial oversight of any future Air Force purchases of the cargo plane, and a heavy burden on taxpayers. A few years later, POGO helped to expose a sweetheart deal that would have given Boeing a sole-source leasing contract for the C-17 (see Boeing Leaser Taking Deal).
Originally conceived in 1983, the requirements for the RAH-66 Comanche helicopter called for a small, lightweight, high performance reconnaissance and attack aircraft. However, to incorporate all these features into a single aircraft, weight had to be added, and new technologies had to be developed because they were either immature or still conceptual in nature. As a result, throughout its history, the Comanche program suffered from dogged funding problems, changing requirements, and wildly unrealistic technological expectations. The Army canceled the Comanche program in 2004, following POGO’s recommendation.
The Crusader is an armored, mechanized vehicle that was slated to become the Army’s next-generation, 155mm, Self-Propelled Howitzer cannon, supported by a companion ammunition resupply vehicle. POGO recommended canceling the $11.2 billion program after redesign efforts resulted in decreased mission effectiveness. There were also major issues with the Crusader’s development and testing processes. The Crusader was canceled in 2002, in part because it was deemed too heavy to be useful in today’s battles.
A crucial weapons system requirement for the Air Force’s helicopter replacement program for its combat search and rescue mission, dubbed CSAR-X, was significantly and inappropriately weakened by Air Force program officials to allow Boeing’s Chinook helicopter to compete. Boeing eventually won the CSAR-X contract, worth an estimated $10-15 billion. POGO’s findings indicated that the acquisition process was subverted, and the needs of the warfighter consequently undermined. As a result, the wrong helicopter for the mission may have been procured, possibly putting at risk the men and women in our armed forces who need to be rescued.
Defense Contractor Mergers
POGO has raised serious concerns about defense contractor mergers, which tend to reduce competition, increase the cost of goods and services, and tie the government’s hands when it may want to suspend, debar, or otherwise hold a contractor accountable. POGO believes that the government should not be using taxpayer funds to pay for “restructuring” costs such as merger expenses and executive compensation. Because the merging of defense contractors affects not just defense spending but all federal contracts, you can learn more about this issue in the Contract Oversight section.
Defense and the National Interest Blog
After a ten-year run of analysis, commentary, and discussion, DNI is no longer generating new content. The site is now maintained and preserved for your reading pleasure by the Project On Government Oversight.
FA-22 Fighter Aircraft
Since its conception in 1986, the Air Force’s F-22A Raptor fighter jet has been the focus of continued debate. Problems range from technical flaws (despite 20 years of research and development) to a cost that is higher per aircraft than any other in history. POGO recently opposed a congressional plan authorizing multi-year procurement of the F-22A, especially after it was revealed that the head of a federal research institute which recommended multi-year procurement was holding stocks and stock options in an F-22A subcontractor.
Future Combat Systems
The Army’s 30-year, $160 billion Future Combat Systems (FCS) program will create a modernized system of armored vehicles, robots, and drones connected via a sophisticated battle command network. But the development of FCS has been plagued by major problems, including poor planning of program requirements and unwarranted levels of confidence in unproven technologies. POGO has also raised concerns about the FCS program being acquired under an Other Transactions Authority (OTA) agreement, which means that it is exempt from contracting controls and oversight mechanisms that are typically in place to protect taxpayers from waste and abuse.
Future Combat Systems (FCS) Resources
The Growler is an updated version of the M151 Jeep that the U.S. military retired in the early 1980s. POGO has found that the Pentagon is wasting taxpayer dollars on the Growler, an unarmed vehicle that is out of place in today’s missions where troops often have to contend with ambushes and roadside bombs.
POGO advocates for stronger oversight and accountability in the intelligence community. In recent years, POGO has supported measures that would grant greater access to congressional intelligence committees and strengthen whistleblower protections for intelligence personnel.
Joint Strike Fighter Aircraft
The Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is expected to be the largest military aircraft procurement ever, awarded to Lockheed Martin in 2001 for an estimated $300 billion. But POGO has raised concerns that JSF aircraft will be outfitted with risky and unproven technologies. In addition, a recent Pentagon report looking at how Lockheed manages JSF and other programs concluded that the contractor is non-compliant with industry guidelines for tracking and managing costs.
Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles
Due to their heavy armor and V-shaped hull, Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (MRAPs) are less susceptible to deadly improvised explosive devices and other types of asymmetric weapons. POGO recently obtained an internal report showing that the Marine Corps "grossly mishandled" requests from Marines in Iraq for more MRAPs, leading to unacceptable delays which have placed U.S. troops at great risk.
The Patriot is a surface-to-air missile of central importance to the U.S. Army’s anti-ballistic missile platform. But POGO recently learned that Patriot missiles have been shooting down friendly aircraft in testing as far back as 1993. Even the updated missiles are having problems distinguishing between friendly and enemy aircraft. POGO has criticized the Pentagon for continuing to promote the Patriot despite its knowledge of this serious target discrimination problem.
The Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle is primarily used for surveillance, reconnaissance, and target acquisition. Many Pentagon officials and reporters have praised the Predator for its successful deployment in Kosovo and Afghanistan. But POGO obtained a Pentagon report which concludes that the Predator is “not operationally effective or suitable” due to serious technical limitations, especially when the aircraft is flying in the rain or at nighttime.
In the 1980s, POGO worked to expose outrageously overpriced military spending on coffee pots, nuts, and other spare parts. Several years later, the contractor-driven campaign to “re-invent government” removed many of the safeguards that were put in place to keep costs low and protect taxpayers from overspending on spare part items. These acquisition reforms allowed contractors to sell “commercial” items without having to provide cost and price data to prove that their prices are fair. As a result, POGO continues to expose spare part horror stories at the Pentagon.
Stryker Armored Vehicle
The Stryker is an eight-wheeled armored combat vehicle produced by General Dynamics. POGO has raised questions about the decision to move away from more heavily armored vehicles in favor of swifter, more lightly armored vehicles like the Stryker. POGO is also concerned that the vehicle has not been adequately tested. A few years ago, an Army think tank identified several technical problems with the Stryker, such as malfunctioning weapons and computer systems and a vulnerability to rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs).
V-22 Osprey Aircraft
The V-22 Osprey, a Marine Corps aircraft that takes off like a helicopter and lands like a plane, has been plagued by countless setbacks since it was first introduced more than 25 years ago. Inside sources familiar with the V-22 have informed POGO about problems with downwash, visibility, de-icing, and emergency egress. There have also been questions raised about the lack of adequate testing and evaluation of the aircraft. POGO has called for the cancellation of the V-22, which has been involved in numerous accidents killing both Marines and civilians.
Wasteful Defense Spending
Year after year, the Congress and the Pentagon support big ticket expenditures for weapons systems that do not work, are constantly run way over budget, and are designed to address different threats from a bygone era. Today, there is even greater urgency for canceling the wasteful programs that drain funds from essential national security needs and put our troops at risk. POGO will continue to investigate and challenge billions of dollars in wasteful Pentagon spending on programs that exist primarily to benefit defense contractors.