Wednesday, February 10, 2016

LRS-B Cost Story Not Really About LRS-B

DefenseNews has a young posse of correspondents that are pretty hapless when it comes to analysis, but they still manage to do some actual reporting from time to time. If you can stand having to read around the speculation, hearsay, and opinions coming from the usual anti-defense sources who seem to feed DefenseNews and most other D.C. media outlets, you can pick up some odd useful stuff.

... In last year’s budget request, the Air Force included about $12.6 billion in its research, development, technology and evaluation account for the next-generation bomber from FY17 through FY20, according to official budget documents. But for the same time period, the service’s FY17 funding profile for LRS-B is about $9.1 billion – a significant drop of about $3.5 billion.  
Budget observers took to Twitter Tuesday after the initial budget rollout to lambaste the Air Force for cutting resources for the bomber. However, the reduction simply reflects the service’s updated cost estimate for the program since awarding a contract to Northrop Grumman Oct. 27, Air Force deputy for budget Carolyn Gleason told reporters Tuesday at the Pentagon. ...

Now the real news here isn't that the estimated program cost dropped nearly 28% with better newer data, or that some people over-reacted to the budget change and ASSUMED the worst.

The REAL story is:
  1. How much cost estimates can and do vary wildly depending upon assumptions made and external factors...even over short periods of time.
  2. No cost estimate involving the design and fielding of new technology in an unstable funding environment is any more 'REAL' than ANY other.
These two points should be kept in mind whenever one hears a cost estimate asserted in the press and is received as gospel. Many fonts of these estimates, such as Todd Harrison, who is now a go-to CSIS soundbite source, need to start assuming some mantle of humility in their cost and budget assertions, if only to at least PRETEND that someday they will be held accountable for their applying inconsequential knowledge to consequential things.

I submit that ALL such cost estimates should be prefaced from this day forward with...

 the 'Doc' Brown Disclaimer:


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