WASHINGTON, May 22, 2009 – President Barack Obama today signed legislation aimed at reforming the Defense Department’s buying process. The Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act, which garnered unanimous support yesterday in voting by the House of Representatives and Senate, will increase government oversight, save taxpayer dollars and spend defense funding more efficiently, Obama said at the White House signing ceremony.

“I’m proud to join Democratic and Republican members of Congress for the signing of a bill that will eliminate some of the waste and inefficiency in our defense projects — reforms that will better protect our nation, better protect our troops, and save taxpayers tens of billions of dollars,” he said.

Obama echoed Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, saying that a dollar of wasted defense spending is a dollar not spent on supporting U.S. troops, preparing for future threats or protecting the American people.

“Secretary Gates, working with our military leadership, has also proposed a courageous set of reforms in our defense budget that will target waste and strengthen our military for the future,” Obama said. “In taking on this enormously difficult task, he’s done a tremendous job.”

The Government Accountability Office last year examined 95 major defense programs and found cost overruns totaling $295 billion.

“To put this in perspective, these cost overruns would have paid for our troops’ salaries and provided benefits for their families for more than a year,” Obama said. “At a time when we’re fighting two wars and facing a serious deficit, this is inexcusable and unconscionable.”

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman today said the bill demonstrates the Defense Department’s commitment to acquisition reform.

“This new legislation will be a key component of that in building a more responsible, high-performance government, and right here in the Defense Department,” he said.

Whitman said the legislation will help to create improvements in the areas of systems engineering, development evaluation and pricing, and also will cut the number of no-bid contracts.

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