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Press Release

Nation's Largest Taxpayer Group Applauds House Efforts to Review Troubled Navy Destroyer Program

For Immediate Release July 19, 2005

(Washington, DC) -- Congressional hearings on the Navy's troubled DD(X) destroyer are a much-needed progress check -- and a fiscal reality check -- for the program, according to the 350,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU). The citizen group today applauded the House Projection Forces Subcommittee and Chairman Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) for taking the initiative to ensure that tax dollars are being used as efficiently and effectively as possible to secure our nation.

"American taxpayers were originally told that this ship would cost $1 billion to produce. Now, we are being told that costs could exceed $4 billion per ship," said NTU Economic Policy Analyst Kristina Rasmussen. "This hearing is vital in uncovering the reasons for this astonishing disconnect and deciding whether spending 30 to 40 percent of the Navy's annual shipbuilding budget on one vessel is a reckless strategy that could leave other critical defense systems fatally under-funded."

The Navy introduced the DD(X) multi-mission surface combatant program in November 2001 as the "centerpiece to transforming the 21st Century Navy." The destroyer is designed to implement still-unrealized technological advances to fight conflicts within the sea-to-shore littoral range, all at a reduced personnel cost. Yet, Rasmussen noted that these promises for a leaner and meaner fighting ship are growing more tenuous as the first construction contract looms.

"The capabilities envision for DD(X) are undoubtedly remarkable; however, building a ship on key technologies that don't even exist leaves some question as to this program's affordability and viability," said Rasmussen. "With an unknown schedule and unpredictable costs, policymakers and defense officials should re-evaluate the prudence of continuing DD(X) now -- before it sinks the federal budget deeper into red ink and scuttles potentially more urgent military projects.

NTU's interest in the Subcommittee's hearing is part of an ongoing commitment to ensure that defense dollars are properly prioritized. In the past, the group has declared opposition to projects such as the C-130J cargo aircraft and the Boeing 767 tanker lease program, on the grounds that they failed to serve taxpayers and people in uniform.

"The DD(X) situation shows all too many troubling signs of a bloated and wasteful military acquisition program that desperately needs to be reformed," Rasmussen concluded. "Earlier in the year, House authorizers took a good first step when they inserted a $1.7 billion cap per DD(X) ship into the FY06 National Defense Authorization Act, thereby requiring developers and producers to contain run-away costs. Now, NTU urges Congress to utilize this week's hearing to insert continued reforms into the procurement process."

NTU is a non-partisan citizen group founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes, smaller government and more accountability from elected officials at all levels.