Authorization provided for continued destruction of Army's chemical weapons

The U.S. Army program that runs two chemical weapons depots recently received authorization to continue overseeing the destruction of weapons stockpiles despite a 33 percent higher cost than original estimates.

Earlier in the year, the growing cost estimates for the Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives Program, which manages the Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado and the Bluegrass Army Depot in Kentucky, reached $2.6 billion. The estimate overrun automatically triggered a review, according to Chieftan.com.

Under the 1982 Nunn-McCurdy Act, a review is mandated any time a Pentagon program exceeds cost estimates by 25 percent. The act requires that the Secretary of Defense provide a detailed justification of why the estimates were in error. If unsatisfied, Congress is authorized to either terminate the program or require that an alternative be found, according to RichmondRegister.com.

The cost of the ACWA program has risen in part because the U.S. Department of Defense stalled work on the program, which allowed costs to rise, and in part because the cost of the technology it uses were hard to originally estimate. The neutralization plants were only one-third completed when the estimates were first made.

Congress has, nonetheless, been supportive of the program and willing to continue its funding. Pressure from Colorado and Kentucky senators has also played a role.

Lt. Col. Melinda F. Morgan from the Office of the Secretary of Defense recently announced that a new baseline for funding would be established this fall.

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