View Full Version : GAO launches new investigation of EFV program

07-29-2009, 02:40 PM
GAO launches new investigation of EFV program

By Dan Lamothe - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Jul 28, 2009 19:03:31 EDT

Congressional auditors are again investigating the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program, with officials from the Government Accountability Office visiting its facility in Woodbridge, Va., last week, an EFV spokesman said.

The audit was requested by the House Appropriations Committee, which decided in July to cut $50 million from the program’s $293 million budget for fiscal 2010, EFV spokesman Manny Pacheco said. The Corps is cooperating with the GAO, whose critical reviews of the program in the past have fueled conversation about whether development of the amphibious, armored personnel carrier should continue.

“We don’t expect them to find anything other than ‘we’re confident that the program is on track,’” Pacheco said. “We’re really confident we’re doing the things we need to do.”

Designed to carry combat-ready Marines from Navy ships to enemy shores, the EFV has been labeled the Corps’ top ground acquisition priority by Commandant Gen. James Conway. But the multibillion dollar program has experienced widespread technical failures and delays, causing scrutiny and criticism on Capitol Hill, where it has been called an embarrassment.

The complete cost of the program has jumped from about $8.4 billion in 2000 to about $13 billion this year, even though the number of vehicles to be purchased was slashed almost in half, from 1,013 to 573. Widespread fielding isn’t expected until 2015 at the earliest, 12 years behind the initial schedule.

Marine officials say the program has turned a corner since the Corps scrapped existing plans two years ago and restarted the program’s entire development and demonstration phase, a move that cost nearly $1 billion.

In December, the Defense Department reviewed the EFV program and assessed whether it was meeting requirements for cost, schedule and performance. It was given the green light to continue, with contractor General Dynamics overseeing production of five new personnel carriers and two new command vehicle variants over the next year.

Pacheco said EFV program officials are weighing their options in case the Senate approves the $50 million cut proposed by the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, headed by Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa. It could impact delivery of the prototypes, which was expected by late next spring, and the overall timeline of the program, which calls for production to begin in 2012.

In March, Murtha said during a hearing that the EFV program was “on the bubble as far as I’m concerned.” But he told Lt. Gen. George Flynn, deputy commandant for combat development and integration, that he would recommend to the subcommittee that the EFV program be continued “if you’re going to give us some responsible recommendations about what’s happening, guidelines about what’s happening as it goes down the road.”

Murtha could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

Previous GAO reports on the EFV have outlined a troubled program marked by widespread technical failure and unrealistic expectations. GAO auditors blamed the shortfalls on a variety of factors, including adoption of an unrealistic schedule that rushed production, skipping a comprehensive design process in favor of having General Dynamics fix problems in piecemeal fashion and not appointing an overall system engineer.