Incredibly, it’s true. The Government Accountability Office just discovered (pdf) that the agency charged with managing the US nuclear stockpile is pretty much making up the numbers as they go along.
For instance, when the National Nuclear Security Administration asked Congress for millions of dollars to maintain weapons activities in 2009, they ended up spending well into the billions. From the GAO report:
As reported above, when we asked, not all M&O contractors determined the total cost to operate and maintain weapons activities facilities and infrastructure at their sites. However, for the six contractors that did so, the cost to fully operate and maintain weapons activities facilities and infrastructure greatly exceeded the amount of funding for RTBF Operations of Facilities in fiscal year 2009. Congressionally directed RTBF Operations of Facilities funding for these six sites in fiscal year 2009 totaled approximately $558.6 million, but their estimated fiscal 2009 expenditures for this work scope drawn from all funding sources totaled approximately $1.1 billion.
By low-balling their costs the NNSA got Congress to approve their work, then they blew their estimates out of the water. And as always, we foot the bill.
No, I am not surprised. But I am outraged. Nuclear weapons are draining our resources, and this is one more reason to commit to the goal of zero nuclear weapons. Yesterday USA Today declared that “war” is “brewing” in the Senate over an important nuclear treaty.