Laser Project Defrauds Taxpayers for Billions
|January 9, 2007||Posted by Staff under Archive, Progress Report, The Progress Report|
Taxpayers Were Defrauded for Billions
Taxpayers for Common Sense is the best organization that monitors excessive government spending, corruption and corporate welfare. Here is their latest news update.
GAO SNUBS LASER PROJECT The builders of the worlds most powerful laser misled Congress by lowballing the projects cost to win initial funding, according to a recent government report.
Officials at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory knowingly downplayed the National Ignition Facilitys (NIF) growing technical problems. In addition, the officials also fudged an outside contactors evaluation to give the project glowing reviews last year, according to the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO).
The project, which has been under construction since 1997, has encountered a series of problems, including the resignation of its director, construction delays, and massive cost overruns.
The revelations raise more concerns and doubts about the value of the experimental laser project to DOEs nuclear weapons program as Congress debates whether to reduce the embattled projects funding.
The superlaser was designed to test the reliability of nuclear weapons by heating and compressing nuclear fuel pellets with 192 converging laser beams. NIF was originally scheduled to begin operating in 2002. Deadline slippage and numerous technical snags have pushed back NIFs completion until 2008, according to DOE.
Although the projects mission has been questioned from the outset, the full extent of the projects troubles was made public in the fall of 1999. The GAO report says that both lab managers and officials at the Energy Department headquarters knowingly covered up the projects true costs beginning with an initial budget request of $1.2 billion in 1995.
According to the GAO, the cost of the stadium-size laser now stands at more than $3.9 billion. This includes funds for related research and programs that investigators believe should be counted as part of the ignition facilitys budget.
That estimate is more than $600 million higher than the DOEs latest projection of $3.3 billion, which excludes costs the Department insists do not belong on the ignition facilitys balance sheet.
The GAO attributes the cost overruns to an unrealistic initial budget, poor management at Lawrence Livermore, and an absence of independent review and oversight by the Department of Energy.
Last week, the Senate passed the energy and water spending bill, denying the Department of Energy $95 million that the agency requested over the Administrations request for fiscal year 2001. The Senate also directed the National Academy of Sciences to study the technical feasibility of the current NIF project and report back to Congress by next year.
The Senate should be commended for taking this prudent first step towards fiscal accountability for this embattled superlaser.
For more information, contact Keith Ashdown at (202) 546-8500 x110 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org ; TCS is at www.taxpayer.net
Who is in jail for this fraud? Nobody, it seems. Is stealing billions of our dollars not a serious crime? Who should be placed on trial? Tell The Progress Report!