The $596 Million Sole Source Radio Contract Increase

The Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio Systems (SINGCARS) stands out as the military's workhorse tactical radio, carried on the backs of grunts and installed in vehicles and helicopters. Over the past three years, the Army alone has acquired more than 250,000 of them from ITT Corp.

Last week, the Army's Communications-Electronics Command said it increased the ceiling value of the sole source contract with ITT from $2.5 billion to $3.096 billion, a $596 million increase to purchase ancillary equipment, spare parts, and repair and engineering services.

CECOM said it bumped up the value of the SINGCARS contract with ITT "Due to significant redesigns of SINCGARS due to obsolescence issue the Government does not possess a complete technical data package" to run a competition.

I think the plain English translation of the above is "hey, we're stuck with our original vendor so what's another $596 million."

CECOM said it also needed a whole bunch of SINGCARS ancillary equipment and spare parts to support Army reorganization and take care of units returning from combat.

But wait -- the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, in the 2010 Defense Authorization Bill conference report, whacked $75 million from the SINGCARS program due to what they viewed as "unjustified program growth."

It seems to me a $596 million tab for SINGCARS ancillary equipment (whatever that is) and spare parts amounts to a huge amount of program growth.