Congress extends deadline to replace Pentagon surveillance reports
The defense clearance measure approved by the Senate last week would end, as of fiscal 2023, the Pentagon’s obligation to file certain public reports on more than $ 2 trillion in major weapons .
This is a unique category of documents that experts say have improved the oversight of such spending for more than half a century. The National Defense Authorization Act for FY2020 had required that documents, known as Selected Acquisition Reports, be terminated after FY2021. The new NDAA for FY2022 retains the termination mandate but extends the time limit by two years.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon is working on an alternative reporting system that would make information available in a real-time database rather than in quarterly or annual reports. But the new system is not yet ready, and its proposed elements are unclear to the Congressional Armed Services committees, whose new NDAA requires Pentagon reports on the future system.
SARs, as reports are called, provide information on the extent to which the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons programs are meeting cost, schedule, and technical performance targets.
Because the current reports, which date back to 1968, have been invaluable to congressional advisers, defense experts, auditors, and journalists, many support keeping them as is. Most everyone agrees, however, that if they are to be replaced, it must be with a system that tracks as well or better how officials are meeting their commitments to deliver hundreds of billions of dollars to guns on time and on budget.