Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci on Thursday rejected congressional proposals to correct abuses uncovered in the Pentagon fraud scandal, saying lawmakers should put their own house in order first.
"The last thing we need is a legislative rush to reform that produces not solutions but simply new and different problems - and deprives us of some of the strengths of the current system," Carlucci said.The defense chief proposed five ways for Congress to streamline its committee structure and its process for approving military budgets in order to reduce the chances that lobbyists could change weapons programs to their benefit.
Carlucci balked at "reform proposals now circulating on Capitol Hill" that would create a weapons agency and an inspector general independent of the Pentagon in addition to trying to close a revolving door of officials moving between private industry and Defense Department.
The government's current probe of private consultants bribing Pentagon officials for information to help win weapons contracts "has focused our attention on the use of illegally obtained information to gain unfair advantage," Carlucci acknowledged.
"(But) illegally gained information has value only when the opportunity exists to use it," he said. "Unfortunately the current system offers far too many such opportunities where a skillful lobbyist can succeed."