Fact #35

President Obama signed the Bi-Partisan Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act re-establishing accountability, financial & technical oversight.

Taking aim at defense contractors who were allowed to operate with little or no oversight, who deliver weapon systems that are late, who deliver or delay immature weapons programs plagued with design flaws, who deliver outdated weapons systems, or whose weapon systems delivered costs exceed the project's original estimate, President Obama signed the Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act on May 22, 2009 (Public Law 111-23). The new law is in response to $295 billion in cost overruns discovered last year by the Government Acountability Office (GAO) in 95 major defense projects. Public Law 111-23 puts in place a government watchdog to monitor costs and reduce wasteful spending.

The Bill was conceived with bi-partisan support of Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) and Senator John McCain (R- AZ), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Public Law 111-23 is the second step of the Obama Administration efforts to ensure accountability in Weapon Systems Acquisition, President Obama having previously ended the practice of Pentagon "No-Bid Contracts" amid an investigation into overcharging by military contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Public Law 111-23 permits the Pentagon to scrap projects that are delayed due to developmental flaws and could exceed 25% of the project's original projected cost.



For further information, see:

Remarks by the President at Signing of the Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act


President Signs Levin-McCain Bill to Reform Weapon Systems Acquisitions Process (Press Release) May 22, 2009.


"...There are fundamental problems with the way we buy major weapons systems, said Levin. Without serious steps to bring cost and schedule estimates and performance expectations in line with reality, billions more in taxpayer dollars would have been wasted. The legislation signed by President Obama today and supported unanimously by both parties in both houses of Congress will require the Department of Defense to take the necessary steps to avoid that continued waste...By establishing an independent office for cost estimates, beefing up engineering and testing capabilities and instituting other strong measures, this new law will put major weapons program on sound footing from the start and help to control future costs overruns, schedule delays and performance shortcomings...."

Law will improve weapon acquisitions


"...The new law establishes a Director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation, who will ensure that DOD makes decisions based on realistic cost estimates. It re-establishes a Director of Developmental Test and Evaluation, who will coordinate closely with a Director of Systems Engineering, to ensure that we rebuild the technical expertise to oversee complex weapon programs. To ensure that DOD follows through on these measures, the law requires it to make an official responsible for performance assessment. It also assigns additional responsibility to the Director of Defense Research and Engineering to assess technological maturity and to the unified combatant commanders, those leading the fight, to help set requirements...."

Congress Demands More Oversight on Major Defense Systems Acquisition


One page synopsis of the rationale for the bi-partisan passage in Congress of the Weapon Systems Acquisition Reform Act (WSARA ).

"...The WSARA affects the acquisition of “major defense acquisition programs” -- Department of Defense (DoD) programs that are estimated to require an eventual total expenditure of $300M for R&D or $1.8B for procurement..." The article cites GAO findings of cost overruns in 2008 of $296 billion in 96 defense projects which were behind schedule by an average of 22 months, details the Act's provisions, discusses the new law's impact on both prime contractors and subcontractors on major defense acquisition programs who will face more oversight and scrutiny of cost estimates and subcontracting decisions as a consequence of WSARA. In addition, the Law's new OCI (organizational conflicts of interest) rules may increase competion by giving smaller defense firms a chance to participate as subcontractors and technical advisors.

Reform for Our Troops


"... It reforms a system where taxpayers are charged too much for weapons systems that too often arrive late -- a system that suffers from spending on unproven technologies, outdated weapons, and a general lack of oversight....This law will also enhance competition and end conflicts of interest in the weapons acquisitions process so that American taxpayers and the American military can get the best weapons at the lowest cost...."

President Obama signs law to allow Pentagon to scrap defense contractor projects with cost overruns


Full Text of Weapon Systems Acquisitions Act Public Law 111-23, May 22, 2009: