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You're exactly right. Internal users and decision makers need to know all the aspects and, for the most part, will understand the significance of the various numbers. The issue here though is what numbers does the press report these days -- basically the most horrendous number possible which in this case, like the F-35 is the absolute total lifetime cost of the system and without any context at all.Different users need different cost information; there is no one size fits all. If you are to have intelligent discussions, you need to know what is and is not included, together with the rationale for those inclusions and exclusions.
The simplest example is the Gillette model: lose money on the razor, make it back on the blades. Some suppliers will do that, offering attractively low acquisition costs but massively inflated lifecycle operating costs to acquire their bespoke parts / consumables / software. Some will transfer cost to DND/CAF - for example, if the mark II Whatchamacallit will take five aviators to operate it, where the mark I I only took one, but only provides 2x the capability, the institutional cost over the lifecycle will have grown.
While simple has a certain appeal, detailed information and analysis is also needed to make intelligent decisions.
In the case of the F-35, I'm qite sure that the Liberals of the day understood the real numbers but exploited the acquisition cost v total life cycle cost issue as a political ploy to undermine the Harper government's credibility. I'm not sure why the CBC is focusing on this issue with the CSC project although I note it tends to focus more on the Navy and bureaucracy rather than the government hand that feeds the CBC.
IMHO, a good reporter would present a broader, more balanced picture of the costs and let the public make up it's own mind. But that's asking a bit much, isn't it?