February 01, 2022

Warren Urges Department of Defense to Submit Complete Annual Report on Weapons Testing

Criticizes Department’s Lack of Transparency in Restricting Key Information

Text of Letter to DOD (PDF) | Text of Letter to DOT&E

Washington, D.C. — United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), sent a letter to Nickolas Guertin, Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) at the Department of Defense (DoD), and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin, III to raise concerns about DOT&E’s submission to Congress of a controlled unclassified version of its annual report on the performance of U.S. weapons. Senator Warren is concerned that the lack of public transparency about weapons systems will not serve to protect national security information, but will instead be abused to avoid future disclosure of failures in major DoD weapons programs. Senator Warren is urging DoD to reverse the decision to restrict key information and ensure Congress receives a full version of the report. 

DOT&E was established in 1983 after Pentagon officials and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) exposed deficient combat testing of new weapons to include rigged tests, falsified reports, and outright lies to Congress to keep the money flowing. One of the most important elements in the creation of DOT&E is the annual public report it releases on its findings. While some of its findings are appropriately classified, the requirement for the release of an unrestricted public report has always been the intent of Congress and clearly established in law.

“These reports and the transparency they offer are crucial to ensuring taxpayer dollars are being utilized efficiently and that our servicemembers are provided with the tools they need to complete their missions,” Senator Warren wrote in her letters

In December 2021, then-Acting Director Raymond O’Toole announced that only a “controlled unclassified” version of the report will be made available to Congress instead of one the report in its entirety. This will limit the type of information available for those tasked with holding DoD accountable and ensuring taxpayer dollars are being spent responsibly, increasing risks to national security. Preventing full disclosure makes it less likely that deficiencies, safety issues, and capability shortfalls are properly addressed before weapons are deployed.

“This office has been able to release an unclassified version of this report for nearly 40 years, and it is simply not credible to think it cannot and should not continue to do so,” Senator Warren continued in her letters. “This is a continuation of an unacceptable trend at the Department to reduce the public’s access to basic information essential for accountability. Relegating the findings of your office to be categorized as ‘controlled unclassified information’ will fundamentally undermine its ability to accomplish its mission.”