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Foster Amendment To Increase Accountability, Save Taxpayer Dollars Passed By House

May 22, 2014
Press Release
Legislation Will Investigate Wasteful Spending On Questionable Missile Defense Project

Washington, DC – Today, the House of Representatives passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2015 introduced by Congressman Bill Foster (IL-11).  The Foster amendment seeks to increase accountability and save taxpayer dollars by requiring an independent study of a multi-billion dollar defense project with a history of failure.  

A copy of the amendment is available here.

“I am pleased that the House has passed this amendment to increase accountability and save taxpayer dollars,” said Foster. “Our country has wasted billions of dollars on defense systems because we have failed to cut programs that do not work.  As a scientist, I understand the need to field-test systems.  As a custodian of taxpayer dollars, I believe we need to establish that this technology will protect us from real-world threats before we invest billions more in the premature deployment of a system which may never work.”

The Foster amendment would require the Institute for Defense Analyses to evaluate the testing program for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system (GMD).  The GMD is a missile defense system created to intercept and neutralize ballistic missiles as they begin their descent back towards the Earth. The study would assess the GMD testing and ability of the GMD to perform reliably and effectively under likely real-world conditions against plausible threats.  The study would also include recommendations to improve the testing program and the weapons system itself.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) projects that by 2017, the Federal Government will have spent more than $40 billion on research, development and production of the GMD system.  However, seven years after the first successful intercept test was supposed to occur, the GMD still has not successfully completed an intercept.

The GMD failed an intercept test most recently in July of 2013, and according to the GAO we still do not know the cause of the failure.  Despite the lack of success in testing, as many as 30 GMDs are deployed in Alaska and California. 

“One of the things we have learned is that there is a big difference between a short-range theater missile defense system such as the US-Israeli Iron Dome System where a 90 percent success rate represented a real world triumph, and a ‘star wars’ ballistic missile shield that may never prove feasible,” added Foster. 

“If the tests we use don’t accurately represent the challenges of successfully shooting down a moving object in space from the ground during a limited window of time, the GMD will provide nothing more than a false sense of security.  For this reason, and this history of delays and failures, we must re-examine how the tests for this system are conducted and the rationale for their premature deployment,” Foster concluded.