[Congressional Record Volume 141, Number 193 (Wednesday, December 6, 1995)]
[Pages S18055-S18056]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. PRYOR. Mr. President, today, I rise in the Senate to voice my 
very strong opposition to the actions being considered by the House 
Senate conference committee on the Defense authorization bill.
  Mr. President, I have been informed, with some of my colleagues, and 
I am very sorry I did not get to listen to all of the remarks of my 
good friend and colleague and partner in this issue, Senator Roth of 
Delaware, we have been informed that the conference committee is now 
considering turning back the clock on 12 years of progress in the war 
against $600 hammers, $1,000 toilet seats, guns that do not shoot, 
bombs that do not explode, and planes that do not fly. I believe what 
is at stake are the lives of our men and women who serve this country 
in the Armed Forces.
  Mr. President, I am speaking today of the very useful and most 
critical role of the Office of the Director of Operational Test and 
Evaluation in the Pentagon and the effort underway in the conference 
committee to totally annihilate and to eliminate this office.
  As I address the Senate this afternoon, the conference committee on 
the DOD authorization bill is now deliberating over whether to repeal 
the bipartisan legislation written by myself, along in 1983 with 
Senator Roth, Senator Kassebaum, Senator Grassley, and others, that 
created the independent weapons testing office.
  This legislation this is now known as section 139 of title X 
establishes the Operational Testing Office that currently Mr. 
President, oversees, evaluates, and reports on the results of tests 
conducted on our new military hardware.
  This Office was designed to report directly to the Secretary of 
Defense with this independent assessment of the weapons being tested, 
procurement, and combat use. The job of this Office has been to help 
make good weapons better and to help keep weapons that do not work out 
of the hands of our soldiers and sailors.
  It has saved the taxpayers billions of dollars by exposing many 
troubled systems before they become costly dinosaurs and disasters. The 
ultimate contribution, I think, of the Operational Testing Office has 
been the lives it has saved by helping to ensure that our Armed Forces 
are not sent into combat with weapons that are faulty and do not work 
and will fail in an operational environment.

  Support for this Office, Mr. President, has always been bipartisan. 
For example, former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney said that the 
independent weapons testing ``saved more lives" during Operation Desert 
Storm than perhaps any other single initiative. Current Defense 
Secretary William Perry has recently described this Office as ``The 
conscience of the acquisition process.''
  Earlier this year, I was extremely shocked to learn that the House 
National Security Committee recommended repealing section 139 of title 
X, thereby eliminating this Office.
  Because of what we consider to be a very irresponsible initiative in 
the House of Representatives, Senator Roth and myself sponsored a 
bipartisan sense-of-the-Senate resolution voicing the Senate's full 
support for the Testing Office and our strong objection to repealing 
its charter. This resolution passed the Senate unanimously during 
consideration of the defense authorization bill in August in 1995.
  We were recently notified that the conference committee apparently is 
disregarding the sense-of-the-Senate 

[[Page S 18056]]
resolution by refusing to remove from its conference report the 
language that would kill operational weapons testing in the Pentagon.
  This news is disheartening, indeed, Mr. President. Repealing the law 
that established independent weapons testing would be an irresponsible, 
unthinkable course, and dangerously shortsighted. If this Office's 
charter is revoked, countless American lives will be at risk. 
Furthermore, the entire system by which we acquire new weapons will be 
pushed back to the dark ages. We will undoubtedly be bringing back the 
unthinkable conflict of interest of the students grading their own 
exams, when it comes to evaluating the results of critical weapons 
  Last Friday, after learning that the Testing Office was, indeed, in 
jeopardy and in danger of being eliminated, Senator Roth, Senator 
Grassley and myself sent a letter to Chairman Thurmond and to Chairman 
Spence, expressing our outrage over the apparent desire to repeal 
section 139 of title X. In this letter, Mr. President, we call on the 
conferees to maintain our legislation that created the Operational 
Testing Office.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that a copy of this letter 
that we sent to Chairman Thurmond and to Chairman Spence be printed in 
the Record directly following my remarks.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  (See exhibit 1.)
  Mr. PRYOR. I gladly join my good friends from the other side of the 
aisle in voting our strong bipartisan support for independent weapons 
testing. This Office has always enjoyed support from each side of the 
aisle. I hope it always will. It was created in this spirit. I 
certainly hope that it does not die under a cloud of partisanship.
  I would like my views to be known clearly and publicly before the 
conferees conclude their deliberations on the Defense authorization 
bill. I know they will take heed of the remarks of my colleague and 
good friend, Senator Roth, who just delivered his eloquent speech on 
the floor of the Senate with regard to this issue.
  If this conference report comes to the Senate, Mr. President, with 
language that revokes the charter of our weapons testing office, I will 
strongly oppose the conference report and I will ask it be rejected by 
the entire U.S. Senate.
  As we prepare to send American troops into Bosnia, it would be 
wrong--absolutely, totally wrong--to eliminate the most important 
checks and balances in the military procurement chain that has proven 
to save time, money, and most importantly, the lives of our fighting 
forces. The American taxpayers, the American men and women in uniform, 
deserve much better.
  I thank the Chair for recognizing me. I yield the floor.

                               Exhibit 1

                                                  U.S. Senate,

                                 Washington, DC, December 1, 1995.
     Hon. Strom Thurmond,
     Chairman, Senate Armed Services Committee, SR 228, 
         Washington, DC.
       Dear Mr. Chairman: We are writing to voice our strenuous 
     objection to an action the defense authorization conference 
     committee is considering that would jeopardize independent 
     operational and live-fire weapons testing in the Department 
     of Defense. We believe that what is at stake are the lives of 
     our men and women who serve in the armed forces.
       As you know, the conference committee is currently 
     discussing various measures to streamline the Office of the 
     Secretary of Defense (OSD). We are aware that the conference 
     committee is considering repealing section 139 of Title 10. 
     Repealing Section 139 would eliminate the authority of the 
     Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) to oversee, 
     evaluate, and report on the operational worth of weapons 
     prior to their production and procurement by the U.S. 
       The DOT&E office was created 12 years ago with strong 
     bipartisan support. Its existence has been critical to 
     Congressional and Pentagon efforts to promote a ``fly-before-
     you-buy'' approach to the multi-billion dollar arena of 
     military acquisitions.
       Section 139 of Title 10 is the foundation upon which this 
     important contribution to DOD procurement is based. Since its 
     enactment, this provision has saved time, money, and most 
     importantly, the lives of our soldiers and sailors who must 
     rely on tested, proven weapons. We truly believe that any 
     decision by the conference committee to repeal section 139 
     would result in many unintended consequences.
       Eliminating this office would not eliminate the requirement 
     to conduct testing under realistic operational conditions. 
     However, it would raise the question as to who would be 
     responsible for approving test plans and for providing 
     independent evaluations of testing. This uncertainty would be 
     costly indeed.
       We appreciate the conferees' desire to streamline the 
     Office of the Secretary of Defense. However, the Federal 
     Acquisition Streamlining Act recently enacted by Congress 
     merged live-fire testing with the operational testing 
     function. Thus, independent testing oversight has already 
     been streamlined. Furthermore, the DOT&E office is already 
     one of the smallest in the Pentagon bureaucracy.
       This directorate has proven itself as one of the most 
     important checks and balances in the DOD procurement system. 
     Its value has been lauded by our two most recent Secretaries 
     of Defense. After Operation Desert Storm, former Defense 
     Secretary Dick Cheney said that the vigorous, independent 
     testing oversight put in place by Congress ``saved more 
     lives'' than perhaps any other single initiative. Current 
     Defense Secretary Perry recently described the DOT&E as ``the 
     conscience of the acquisition process.''
       In August, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved a Sense of 
     the Senate resolution that stated clearly the Senate's 
     opposition to repealing section 139 of Title 10. We continue 
     to believe that repealing the law that guides independent 
     weapons testing is wrong and dangerously shortsighted.
       Clearly the question facing Congress is do we care more 
     about reducing the size of OSD or protecting the lives of our 
     service men and women. We firmly believe that if the 
     provisions repealing section 139 are not removed, Congress 
     will be putting countless lives at risk in the name of 
     reducing a handful of billets.
       We urge you to continue the bipartisan Congressional 
     support for independent testing by deleting from your 
     conference report any provisions that would repeal section 
     139 of Title 10.
       Thank you for your consideration of this urgent matter.
     William V. Roth, Jr.
     Charles E. Grassley.
     David Pryor.

  Mr. PRYOR. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. BINGAMAN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Campbell). Without objection, it is so