The Council on Economic Priorities, a nonprofit research organization, issued a report yesterday that said "there is serious doubt" whether the Reagan administration's revisions of weapons purchasing programs "will ever succeed in reducing costs."
The changes are called the "Carlucci Initiatives" after Frank C. Carlucci, the former deputy secretary of defense who, in April, 1981, listed 32 steps designed to make defense contracting more efficient.
The initiatives include awarding one contract for several years' production to obtain the savings from mass production, decentralization of Defense Department management of weapons contracts and penalties for contractors who perform poorly.
Gordon Adams, military research director of the council, assessed the Carlucci Initiatives in a 61-page report and faulted them in several respects. He said one flaw is that the Pentagon is dependent on its military contractors for cost data and that it must take the company's word for what rate of production would be most efficient.
"Overall, the initiatives appear to miss the mark," Adams wrote. "By calling for greater decentralization of procurement management, a step back toward military service control as it existed in the 1940s and 1950s," Adams said, "the initiatives may make discovery and control of cost problems more difficult rather than more efficient. Decentralization moves us away from visibility and adequate monitoring."
Adams hailed the Carlucci Initiatives that called for penalizing poor performance, but said there is no evidence that the administration is being any tougher in this regard than its predecessors.
"Since the initiatives were announced," Adams said, "the Department of Defense restarted Lockheed's production of C5A cargo plane and Rockwell's B1 bomber, both with long histories of inadequate cost control."
The report recommended that the Pentagon set priorities of what weapons the nation needs most before committing large sums under multiyear contracts and that it upgrade Defense Department auditing capabilities to keep better track of industry costs.