- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 9, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

It is nice to see that the more things change the more they remain the same. Adm. James Lyons points out that the Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) are overweight, unstable, not fast enough and probably cannot carry the intended war-freighting modules of the future (“Why we need better ships,” Opinion, Sunday). I really cannot pass judgment on the LCS program for its intended purposes, but this stuff is as old as the U.S. Navy.

During the design and construction phases of any naval vessel, there are detailed weight-margin accounts, which are supposed to offset future uncertainties. It is an odd fact that those uncertainties rarely show up as decreases in weight, volume or vertical center.

So if the program manager — and, for that matter, the politicians and high-level military brass who want that particular ship — games the process and goads the accountants (i.e., weight engineers) to cook the books, you invariably end up with an overweight, over-budget and ineffective white elephant.

Screw-ups like the LCS are legend. In fact, some programs have been so ineffective that they necessitated plugging (adding length for additional buoyancy) when the ship was under construction.

If the Navy’s experience with the LCS does not remind you of what goes on in the rest of the federal government, it should. Bean counters are absolutely despised in the rest of the government. The Navy is just a reflection of what happens in Congress every day. However, the rest of us have to count our beans carefully and suffer the consequences if we game the process.

SAMUEL BURKEEN

Reston

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