DoD personnel who manage Government property supporting the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Program could not account for billions of dollars in parts, according to a new watchdog report. Now, the Pentagon has to rely upon Lockheed Martin for records.
The bombshell report from the DoD's Office of Inspector General found that DoD personnel “failed to implement procedures, and failed to appoint and hold officials responsible, to account for and manage government property for more than 16 years.”
As a result of the DoD's Office of Inspector General's close examination of the program, “the DoD does not know the actual value of the F-35 property and does not have an independent record to verify the contractor-valued government property of $2.1 billion for the F-35 Program. Without accurate records, the F-35 Program officials have no visibility over the property and have no metrics to hold the prime contractor accountable for how it manages Government property. The lack of asset visibility restricts the DoD’s ability to conduct the necessary checks and balances that ensure the prime contractor is managing and spending,” the report states.
The Pentagon plans to purchase 2,663 F-35s, which will be distributed to the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps in the next two decades. Deliveries of the F-35 for the military are scheduled until 2037 with a program life up to 2070. The program is expected to cost $1.508 trillion, has already footed a $400 billion bill to taxpayers.
The fifth-generation stealth jet has been plagued with many issues, including cost overruns, software delays, and corrosion problems.
President Donald Trump has spoken out against the F-35, including in 2017 when he tweeted that the program’s costs were "out of control." It now appears he may have been right again.
Lockheed has valued the parts at $2.1 billion, but DoD's Office of Inspector General “had no way to verify the property records provided by the prime contractor" were correct.
The watchdog recommended that, before series production of the F-35 begins, the program should “immediately appoint" two Pentagon officials to oversee the program and Lockheed "to verify the existence and completeness of all F-35 property and account for it on the appropriate financial statements.”