For the Record

By Marjorie Censer / March 26, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Although the Army decided not to attend this afternoon's House Armed Services air and land forces subcommittee hearing on the Future Combat Systems program, subcommittee chairman Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) -- who was not happy about the Army's decision -- entered the March 17 testimony of Lt. Gen. Ross Thompson, military deputy to the Army acquisition executive, and Maj. Gen. John Bartley, program manager for FCS, into the formal record.

(Abercrombie also expressed some annoyance that the Army canceled its appearance only yesterday -- through a staff member in his office.)

The two generals had submitted the testimony for the originally scheduled hearing last week. Citing ongoing budget talks, the service opted not to send its two representatives to today's event, called in response to a highly critical Government Accountability Office report on FCS.

In the prepared testimony, Thompson and Bartley argue that GAO uses outdated tools and methodologies for analyzing the program.

In fact, they say the FCS initiative serves in many ways as “a model for the flexibility and rapid adjustment that OSD and Congress have called for in defense acquisition.

Gone are the days when a defense program could be planned against a well defined enemy, and then developed and managed through a rigid, sequential set of milestones offering limited flexibility and stretched over long development timelines. The FCS acquisition model is responsive to the constantly changing operational environment.

As an example, the two say that GAO's analysis of software -- which relies on “counting source lines of code (SLOC) as a direct indicator of software cost” -- is no longer an accurate measure.

Additionally, the Army representatives push back against the GAO claim that the program is likely to see a greater tension between its rising costs and increasingly strained available funds.

“We differ from that conclusion because the program employs an integrated cost containment strategy to ensure that life-cycle costs are managed,” the testimony says, adding that the “Army's cost estimates have been consistent and updated as the program added or removed systems.”

Stay tuned for a full story on the hearing, and the testimony.