Nunn-McCurdy requires congressional notice when a program goes 15% over budget, and termination when it goes 25% over budget, unless the DoD certifies it as "essential to the national security," but this has come to mean very little, as evidenced by the F-22, DDG-1000, FCS, JSF, EFV, LCS, etc.
According to Senator Carl Levin, the measure includes:
- Address problems with unreasonable performance requirements by requiring DOD to reestablish systems engineering organizations and developmental testing capabilities; make trade-offs between cost, schedule and performance early in the program cycle; and conduct preliminary design reviews before giving approval to new acquisition programs;
- Address problems with unreasonable cost and schedule estimates by establishing a new, independent director of cost assessment to ensure that unbiased data is available for senior DOD managers;
- Address problems with the use of immature technologies by requiring the Director of Defense Research and Engineering (DDR&E) to periodically review and assess the maturity of critical technologies and by directing the Department to make greater use of prototypes, including competitive prototypes, to prove that new technologies work before trying to produce them; and,
- Address problems with costly changes in the middle of a program by tightening the so-called “Nunn-McCurdy” requirements for underperforming programs.
Carter is a Harvard professor, and has no ties to the defense industry. His career has largely involved criticizing the defense industry while at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and he served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy under Clinton.
The Iron Triangle types do not like him, which means that I do, though I hope that he has the bureaucratic chops to make this work.