WASHINGTON -- February 24 -- Organizations advocating for good government and fiscal responsibility urged Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to stand firm in his decision to cancel the C-130J airlift program today, citing concern over his recent statements saying that he would reevaluate the Pentagon's proposal to cut the program.
In recent days, C-130J advocates have argued that canceling the program could cost up to $1 billion. However, a letter from Taxpayers for Common Sense (TCS) and the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) to Secretary Rumsfeld argues that "those numbers are inflated," citing the contract's "cancellation ceiling amount of $383.3 million," if it were cancelled on Secretary Rumsfeld's proposed schedule. Complete text of the letter follows below or can be viewed here: http://www.pogo.org/m/cp/cp-Rumsfeld-C130J-02242005.pdf
The letter also suggests such cancellation costs may be unwarranted: "We believe the C-130J could be cancelled for cause. In that case, the government pays no cancellation fee," noting that independent reports show that the C-130J has been unable to perform critical missions.
Another letter issued today by the 350,000 member National Taxpayers Union (http://www.ntu.org) also urged Secretary Rumsfeld to cut the program: "the preponderance of evidence continues to show that termination of the program is the best option for taxpayers and the military. From 1998 through 2004, authoritative sources such as the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Defense Department Inspector General have documented the aircraft's numerous performance deficiencies. Just last month, the Defense Department's Director of Operational Test and Evaluation added to this volume of criticism by identifying defects in C-130J's subsystem reliability, software, and defensive features."
POGO and TCS add in its letter: "We hope you will stick with your decision to end the overpriced, unneeded and problem-plagued C-130J program, and that you will carefully examine information that comes to you from those who are not acting in the best interests of the Air Force or the taxpayers."
For more information on the C-130J:
- POGO's C-130J Archives: http://pogo.org/p/x/archivedefense.html#c130j
- Taxpayers for Common Sense Fact Sheet "The C-130J: Herculean Pork" at http://www.taxpayer.net/nationalsecurity/
POGO investigates, exposes, and seeks to remedy systemic abuses of power, mismanagement, and subservience by the federal government to powerful special interests. Founded in 1981, POGO is a politically-independent, nonprofit watchdog that strives to promote a government that is accountable to the citizenry.
Taxpayers for Common Sense (TCS) is a non-partisan budget watchdog. TCS is dedicated to cutting wasteful spending and subsidies in order to achieve a responsible and efficient government that lives within its means.
February 24, 2005
Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense, The Pentagon
Washington D.C. 20301-1000
Dear Secretary Rumsfeld:
We were very pleased when your office decided to cut the government's losses by terminating the C-130J program to save $5 billion for the taxpayers. Now we are concerned to hear you say that "as additional information has come forward" you are reconsidering your decision.
For some time now, we have been closely monitoring the development and purchase of the C-130J cargo aircraft. Our research and discussions with experts have led us to the same conclusion that was expressed in a July 2004 audit by the Department of Defense Inspector General: The Air Force's "commercial" acquisition strategy to develop and purchase the C-130J aircraft was a disaster for the taxpayers and the men and women who must fly and maintain these aircraft.
We hope you will stick with your decision to end the overpriced, unneeded and problem-plagued C-130J program, and that you will carefully examine information that comes to you from those who are not acting in the best interests of the Air Force or the taxpayers.
One such claim circulating Congress and the media is that it would cost the government $1 billion to terminate the Air Force's contract with the C-130J's manufacturer, Lockheed Martin. Even if the contract is terminated at the government's convenience, we believe those numbers are inflated. The contract clearly sets a "cancellation ceiling amount" of $439.7 million if it were terminated before November 2005, and $383.3 million if it were cancelled before November 2006.
We believe the C-130J could be cancelled for cause. In that case, the government pays no cancellation fee. According to the Inspector General's 2004 report, "not one C-130J delivered aircraft was fully compliant with the contract specification." Nor has it yet been declared operationally suitable or effective by the Pentagon's Director of Operational Test and Evaluation. The Inspector General said the transport aircraft has been unable to perform such basic and critical missions that include night vision goggle operations, combat search and rescue, visual formation, global air traffic management, and air dropping paratroopers and containers. In addition, the hurricane hunter versions of the C-130J have experienced radar problems and the aircraft's six-blade propellers have become dangerously pitted in bad weather.
Moreover, the Government Accountability Office has established that the Air Force never even requested the C-130J, and a recent Rand study said development of the aircraft was "contractor-initiated." A 1998 GAO study concluded that the C-130J buys were driven by Congress and not military need. In fact, the new C-130Js forced the Air Force to retire some of its older C-130 models with substantial service life remaining, the GAO said.
Indeed, on February 9, DoD's acting acquisition chief Michael Wynne told an investment conference in New York City that changing transportation requirements and capabilities prompted the department's decision to terminate the C-130J program. According to an article in InsideDefense, Wynne commented on several forthcoming studies that will address airlift options: "Emerging results for some on these studies indicate the Defense Department may not need to rely as heavily on cargo aircraft like the C-130J to haul military equipment around the world. New options for quickly getting weapons, supplies and vehicles to the fight including high-speed ships and increased reliance on prepositioned stocks, Wynne said this week."
Furthermore, one of the justifications for declaring the C-130J a "commercial item" in the first place was based on Lockheed Martin selling the aircraft on the commercial market. In 1998, Lockheed Martin obtained a formal FAA commercial certification. However, it has not sold one aircraft commercially and, in fact, has since allowed the FAA commercial certification to expire. Lockheed has continued to benefit from selling this product as a commercial item, but government auditors have no capacity to review cost and pricing data in order to ensure that the American taxpayers are not getting ripped off.
Once again, we commend you for having the wisdom and courage to terminate yet another wasteful weapons system. We hope that you'll stand by your decision despite the heavy pressure you'll be getting in upcoming weeks from special interest groups that serve masters other than the taxpayers and our nation's men and women of the military.
Project On Government Oversight
666 11th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
Taxpayers for Common Sense
651 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20003