16 March 2009 | Martha McKenzie- Minifie
US military spending is coming under additional scrutiny. The Defence Acquisition Reform panel, a new congressional group named by the House of Representatives' Armed Services Committee, has been charged with finding the root cause of systems failures.
The move came as US president Barack Obama again highlighted defence as a source of "wasteful spending" for the country - struggling with a $1.3 trillion (£9,469 billion) budget deficit.
Obama claimed instances of "outright fraud" and pointed to a US Government Accountability Office study of 95 major defence projects last year that found $295 billion in cost over-runs. Obama ordered federal procurement reforms and vowed that defence contractors would no longer get a "blank cheque".
The new panel was not directly linked to Obama's announcement, but it was seen as an "effort to add a committee voice" to the reform of the Pentagon's acquisition system.
"We must understand the root causes of the Department of Defence's acquisition challenges in order to generate suggestions that affect real reform," said committee member John McHugh.
The panel will be formed for a six-month period with the option of extension for a further six months.
Areas it will examine include how to evaluate performance and value in the current system, the causes of system failures, and the administrative and cultural pressures that lead to "negative outcomes".