Department of Defense officials haven’t kept track of more than $2 billion worth of government-owned equipment involved in producing the F-35 stealth jet, according to a report released this week by the Pentagon’s inspector general.
Lead contractor Lockheed Martin manages roughly 3.45 million pieces of government property as part of the F-35 program, the watchdog said, including special tooling, molds and test rigging. But defense officials have “failed to implement procedures, and failed to appoint and hold officials responsible, to account for and manage government property for more than 16 years.” As a result, “the DoD does not know the actual value of the F‑35 property and does not have an independent record to verify the contractor‑valued government property of $2.1 billion for the F‑35 Program.”
Without proper records, the joint program office overseeing development and production of the F-35 cannot evaluate Lockheed’s use of government property and cannot hold the contractor accountable, the report said. The Pentagon cannot verify, for example, Lockheed’s claim that it has lost $271 million worth of government property.
The inspector general recommended that the F-35 program office begin to follow the required accounting procedures before Lockheed commences full-rate production.