Questionable Use of C-X and Other Air Force Weapon System Funds

MASAD-81-41: Published: Sep 10, 1981. Publicly Released: Sep 10, 1981.

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GAO reviewed the Air Force's C-X Airlift Aircraft Program to provide Congress with a report on key issues peculiar to the system. To meet future airlift requirements for worldwide deployment of U.S. forces, the Air Force proposed the C-X, an aircraft which can carry larger loads than the C-141 but about half as much as the C-5. Congress approved a little less than half of the Air Force's requested budget for the C-X because it was not convinced that the C-X met the near- or long-term airlift requirements. The funds appropriated for the C-X were not to be used for full-scale engineering development of the aircraft until the Secretary of Defense made certain certifications regarding such matters as airlift requirements and technical feasibility.

Although the Secretary of Defense had not submitted all of the necessary certification, the Air Force had allocated 36 percent of the C-X funds for a building renovation, purchase of general-purpose computers, and a related study. Although these allocations did not violate the applicable statutory provisions of the fiscal year authorization and appropriation acts, they may have been used in a manner contrary to the intent of the limited congressional approval of the C-X program. Also, the allocation of C-X funds for the above stated purposes might have been inappropriate because the costs for such general-purpose projects are normally charged to acquisition and command support funds, rather than mission program funds. GAO requested that the Air Force provide an explanation as to whether the practice of using mission program funds for such purposes was appropriate and whether new policies and procedures should be implemented to preclude these practices from continuing.

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