Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Journalists Who [Apparently] Have no Critical Reading Skills Either

(Formerly Titled 'Oddest Thing')

I was invited (challenged?) to comment on Ares concerning my last posting where I covered Bill Sweetman's latest assault on 'all things F-35'. I commented,  leaving a link to the post.

I considered the possibility that it was a setup of sorts, but wasn't concerned as much as curious as to what he had in mind. Tonight I checked back at Ares, and Sweetman had responded.  I was somewhat disappointed in the response and can dismiss it rather easily. So I tried to post a response tonight (Can't sleep, been sleeping all day and all weekend trying to get over the bug).

Odd thing happened though. My attempt to post the first part of a two-part response just seemed to hang up in the process. I had broken my response in two to match format limits, but that won't be necessary if I post it here. I'll try and post at Ares in the AM to see if the 'glitch' has cleared up. If not, I'll add it below, and change the title to "Journalists Who [Apparently] Have no Critical Reading Skills Either" .

Stay tuned....

Well,  I woke up in a hacking fit, rebooted the computer, and tried again a couple of hours later, STILL "No Joy". I provide my correction of Mr. Sweetman's counter-comment at Ares (Sweetman in Italics) with a few non-Nyquil additions in [brackets]. I'll come back and add links and labels when I next come up for air or feel better. I may just fold this whole thing into the bottom of the original post. My response begins below the line


(Sweetman) You appear to be trying to make two points.

I did make two points.

(Sweetman) Rather than my $60m current URFC, which I based on three consecutive years in the most recent SAR, you claim the figure should be $80 million.

NO. I did not 'claim' the figure 'should be' $80M. I demonstrated that, just as Thompson indicated “by perusing the Pentagon’s Selective Acquisition Reports”, such information could be found.
I identified information in the latest SAR that I saw as perhaps clues to the $80M figure that could be found in an earlier SAR. Those clues led me to information in an earlier SAR: the immediately preceding 2011 SAR. Whether estimating then-year unit cost off the base year cost or simply dividing then-year total cost by the units – both arrive at a value close enough to be ‘about’ $80M.

(Sweetman)You base that number on one estimated 13-aircraft "close-out" buy in an older report. This is more accurate... exactly how?

It is more accurate:
  • because it was in the program of record at the time.
  • because it reflected actual expected annual quantity buy and costs [which are the most current values for cancelled 2014 buy].
  • most of all because it reflected a single-year procurement price, as the previous years that you chose to ‘average’ include the benefit of a multi-year buy [and FMS price support].
  • because it also reflected the fact that there were no E-18Gs programmed at the time (for the first time in years) and were therefore not also providing price support 'off the F-18E/F books'.
As an aside, though the 13 E/Fs disappeared for 2014 in the 2012 SAR, [we find] 21 EA-18Gs have been added for 2014 in the 2012 SAR. They, of course, are more expensive as well.
[As another aside, whereas I can point to definite drivers for the increased cost, "close-out" buy is vague, undefined, and in this case unsupported: a  'throwaway' term.]

My first point is therefore made: Facts are in evidence that indicate substance behind Thompson’s $80M figure and [intelligent people may deduce that] therefore indignation and/or incredulousness were unwarranted.

(Sweetman)Then, you dispute my estimate for the 2001 cost by using a different inflation factor, called "economy cost".

NO. My second point was explicit: “Without the quantification of all “the necessary electronics included”, or estimation method used Thompson’s figures aren’t really debatable.” I then added that whatever your estimation was based upon, “it still does not invalidate Thompson’s claims if he uses another recognized inflation adjustment method, SUCH AS that for ‘Economy Cost’.”  

[ If Thompson's numbers bothered me, my first instinct would be to send an e-mail to him first asking him "Hey, what do you base those numbers on? I guess I'm too inquisitive to be a 'journalist']

(Sweetman)But the Pentagon doesn't use it - and neither does anyone else. A Google search for the term (in quotes) does not show it as a method of calculating inflation in its first four pages. If I add the words "inflation method" to the search I get two hits - the source that you link to, and your page.

Since my point, again, was that without more data ANY evaluation is futile, this is pretty much a ‘red herring’,  but I’ll play along. You would have had better luck with Elsevier instead of Google but not by much. First, because ‘Economy Cost’ is a pretty esoteric term. Second, “Economy Cost” is one of those word combinations that will yield multitudes of results far more popular and unrelated or at best peripheral: akin to looking for information on the web concerning incubating eggs by typing in ‘hot chicks’.
In any case, the ‘website’ is part of a project run by two economics professors, with about a dozen international members--apparently all of them also economics professors--on their project advisory board. Ergo: ‘somebody’ uses it.
BTW and not that it matters either: DoD uses OMB inflation figures, it may be authoritative for DoD estimating but not necessarily ‘accurate’ for a 'true' perspective . In DAU it is taught that DoD estimating methods are often disconnected (lower) from methods used by the rest of the world, because “OMB inflation rates reflect policy goals rather than a consensus of forecasters”(link: a dot mil site: ignore warning to view). That's an interesting pedigree isn't it?

(Sweetman) Thanks for playing.

Oh No. Thank You. [Its always appreciated when the big boys come down and inspire the hoi polloi.]


Andrew McLaughlin said...

Seen PPRuNe?

SMSgt Mac said...

Haven't seen much except my doc and pharmacist. No telling what's going on over there. LOL

Andrew McLaughlin said...

Apparently Bill's alter-ego thinks you suffer from the DKE...!

SMSgt Mac said...

Ah. Living rent-free in his punkin' head I guess. Up side, there is lots of space.
I'm 2 years older than Sweetman. He's spent the last 40 years or so as a voyeur: guessing/writing about what I've been doing or what people I know have been doing the last 40 years or so.
I'm just an average (now senior) frog in the big aerospace pond with some really fortunate experience and a lot of school behind me. I work under the assumption that everyone I meet is as smart or smarter, until proven otherwise. If that comes off wrong in some people's perception? Feh-that's their problem.

sferrin said...

B.S. seems to be on quite a tear. He's over on Secret Projects (as "LowObservable")pounding away as well.

Nuno Gomes said...

sferrin,are you sure LO is Bill?

sferrin said...