JTRS breach is a technicality

Reports of recent and sudden cost overruns by the military’s Joint Tactical Radio Program are inaccurate, officials from the JTRS joint program executive office said.

The newsletter Inside the Pentagon reported Feb. 21 that Defense Department acquisition executive John Young had notified Congress Jan. 31 that the ground mobile radio (GMR) domain of JTRS experienced a Nunn-McCurdy breach.

Nunn-McCurdy breaches occur when military program costs increase more than 15 percent from a baseline estimate. In that event, DOD must notify Congress in a publicly available letter. Based on an in-house analysis of other public documents, Inside the Pentagon estimated that GMR costs grew by $1 billion in the final months of last year.

However, the baseline was from 2002 and predates a significant 2006 JTRS reorganization done in large part to prevent costs from spiraling out of control, said Steven Davis, a JTRS program office spokesman.

In written responses, JTRS officials characterized the Jan. 31 Nunn-McCurdy notification letter as a formality, saying it contained no new information. “The increases against the 2002 [acquisition program baselines] have been long known and previously reported” to Congress, officials said. The JTRS board of directors approved new cost baselines in December, and the letter “formally communicates the reset,” officials said.

In a sign that Congress has not lost faith in the program, the fiscal 2008 Defense Authorization Act directs the Army to rely less on its Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (Sincgars) and more on JTRS.

“The Army’s continued desire to procure thousands more Sincgars radios is not consistent with the Army's plan for a future battlefield network,” lawmakers wrote in a report accompanying the legislation, which became law Jan. 28.

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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