WASHINGTON (CN) – President Barack Obama signed the Weapons System Acquisition Reforms Act Friday in an effort to stem the “waste of billions of taxpayer dollars.”
“As Commander-in-Chief, I will do whatever it takes to defend the American people,” Obama said before signing the bill, “but I reject the notion that we have to waste billions of taxpayer dollars to keep this nation secure.”
Last year, the Government Accountability Office found that 95 defense projects had cost overruns totaling $295 billion which Obama said “would have paid our troops’ salaries and provided benefits for their families for more than a year.”
The bill will strengthen oversight by appointing people to oversee government contracts. Any contracts with growing costs would be evaluated and potentially cut. The bill also includes language to increase competition for government contracts.
Obama hailed the legislation as a way of “changing the way we do business in Washington,” and described it as “reforming a culture where the influence of lobbyists too often trumps the will of the people.”
But in a phone interview, Research Fellow Baker Spring at a conservative think tank, the Heritage Foundation, said the new law takes the nation in the wrong direction because it cuts funds to the less promising, but innovative modernization programs we need.
“Basically what the bill does is impose an additional layer of bureaucracy,” he said, which heightens risk aversion.
When asked about the GAO report last year that uncovered $295 billion in extra contracting costs, Spring said the organization counted money that went into researching future weapons systems as waste.
The modernization funds the act will cut are needed to maintain a strong military, he said.
When the French ministry of defense built the Maginot Line, Spring explained in making his case for more modernization funds, they assumed warfare would stay as it was in World War One. “Low and behold, the non-risk averse German system that innovated and developed the concept of blitzkrieg had a better outcome in World War Two.”
The development of blitzkrieg, the method of concentrating tanks to pierce enemy front lines then proceeding without regard to the flank, likely needed large investment Spring explained.