Congressional auditors say official estimates are ignoring key expenses for the U.S. nuclear force, such as costs of overhauling missiles and aircraft.
The Defense and Energy departments indicated that they planned to spend roughly $263.8 billion on the atomic arsenal over the coming decade, but their projections omitted significant items while obscuring “assumptions and limitations,” according to a Tuesday report by the Government Accountability Office.
The investigators singled out the Air Force, in part, for listing planned updates to the intercontinental ballistic missile and strategic bomber fleets as “zero-cost” projects in the covered 10-year period. The service is seeking $914 million in fiscal 2015 for designing a new nuclear-capable aircraft, and is still examining possible options for the future of the ICBM force.
The Defense Department should supply at least “preliminary” estimates of all work to maintain and refurbish the U.S. nuclear deterrent, so that budget planners in Congress are “not left to speculate,” the auditors argued in their assessment. The authors looked at where the nuclear-arms cost projections stood as of last July.
The Pentagon accepted a GAO call — similar to a request put to the Energy Department in December — to provide “a range of potential 10-year budget estimates” for their nuclear-arms initiatives if more exact figures are unavailable.
The report’s authors also asserted that the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration would need more money than it expects for refurbishing cruise- and ballistic-missile warheads through fiscal 2018.
“An NNSA official told us that the agency shifted funding within its budget estimates for these two programs beyond fiscal year 2019 to stay within [White House] guidelines,” the assessment states.
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Along party lines, the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted to tighten privacy standards for Internet service providers. "The regulations will require providers to receive explicit customer consent before using an individual’s web browsing or app usage history for marketing purposes. The broadband industry fought to keep that obligation out of the rules."
President Obama commuted the sentences of another 98 drug offenders on Thursday. Most of the convicts were charged with conspiracy to distribute drugs or possession with intent to distribute. Many of the sentences were commuted to expire next year, but some will run longer. Others are required to enroll in residential drug treatment as a condition of their release.
The Department of Justice announced today it's charged "61 individuals and entities for their alleged involvement in a transnational criminal organization that has victimized tens of thousands of persons in the United States through fraudulent schemes that have resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. In connection with the scheme, 20 individuals were arrested today in the United States and 32 individuals and five call centers in India were charged for their alleged involvement. An additional U.S.-based defendant is currently in the custody of immigration authorities."
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