Congress Wastes Billions on Shipyard Pork
House and Senate negotiators working out differences in a supplemental spending package have approved language withholding from the Navy funding to pursue a strategy of letting only one shipyard build the next generation destroyer.
The provision, approved Tuesday, was sought by congressional delegations from Maine, Mississippi and other shipbuilding states to stymie the Navy’s proposed winner-take-all approach for building the Navy’s stealthy DD(X) destroyer.
The Navy contends that so few ships will be built that it doesn’t make sense to divvy the work between Maine’s Bath Iron Works and Northrop Grumman’s Ingalls shipyard in Mississippi, as has been the practice in recent years. Those two shipyards build destroyers and cruisers for the Navy. Shipyard proponents say the Navy’s proposed policy could drive the losing bidder out of business, eliminating all hope of competitive bids in the future. “Two shipyards ensure greater competition in the long run – both in the development of cutting edge technology and in ensuring the best price for the taxpayer,” Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe said Tuesday in a statment.
Via “Fox Special Report,” which reported that the dual program would cost the taxpayers an additional $3 billion. On the other hand, the “long run competition” argument has some merit. Giving the program to a single shipyard would virtually ensure that the others would be forced to shut down. Of course, protecting constituent jobs, not economic theory, is what’s motivating the Maine and Mississippi delegations.
It’s interesting that the Navy is being so vocal in opposition to this. In recent decades, the Services have been very shrewd in spreading acquisitions programs across as many congressional districts as possible, thus ensuring political support for them in the long run.