Defense

November 8, 2013

Acquisitions chief seeks system improvements, not reform

SFC Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

The Pentagonís acquisitions chief Nov. 7 discussed the state of the defense acquisitions system and methods the Defense Department, working with industry, can use to improve it.

I put out a document a few months ago the defense acquisitions system first annual report, Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. It came out, he said, without much fanfare, but has gained a lot of reaction and responses from many communities.

The intent was to put some data on the table and start looking at how weíre actually doing by a number of different metrics, Kendall explained. And to get a feel for whos doing better than some other people, and why.

Kendall said rather than discussing acquisition reform, a better way to describe it would be acquisition improvement.

[This] forces you to confine your thinking to specific things you can do that will make a difference, he said. I donít think, frankly, that you can wave away the entire system and start over, and expect to have something that looks very, very different from what you have today.

The types of acquisition decisions the Defense Department has to make, he said, involving the approval of weapons systems and contracts, wonít change.

The other thing thatís true about acquisition is that itís incredibly complex.

It encompasses so many different things that have to be done well to get good outcomes, he continued, that itís very, very difficult to pull out and correlate specific factors.

Kendall noted that acquisition reform isn’t a new problem by any means, and he used a specific program to illustrate his point.

The program had an innovative, but unconventional design and was criticized as extravagant, he said.

It included a multi-mission requirement that spanned both irregular warfare and high-intensity warfare putting conflicting demands on the design.

That program also included the use of exotic materials which delayed construction and raised cost, Kendall added. The political establishment, he said, was divided over the need and cost and contracts were spread around a number of states for political purposes.

In addition, Kendall noted the cost growth was excessive, which caused schedule slips and program instability.

The Congress was alarmed at the cost and scheduled delays, and conducted inquiries, he said. And [they] railed at the waste that was going on in the program.

While some may have speculated Kendall was referring to the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter program, he said he was referring to the process that built the first six frigates for the U.S. Navy in 1794.

Sound familiar? he asked. So thereís been a lot of acquisition reform — not just in our lifetime. People [have] talked about it for a very, very long time.

Kendall said itís his firm belief there are very simple factors that drive outcomes in acquisition — professionalism on the government and industry sides, as well as leadership and hard work.

Finally he said, is a measure of courage to do the hard thing when itís more expedient to go ahead and spend money.

Kendall said DOD is doing hundreds of things to try and improve its acquisition processes.

You have to attack on a lot of fronts, and get a lot of things right. Itís very detailed, difficult work.

Kendall also noted the next update for DODI 5000.02, the source document that provides guidance on structuring acquisitions programs, will be available soon and will emphasize the tailoring of acquisition programs more than previous versions.

We show people multiple models of how you can structure an acquisition program depending upon what the product is, he said, noting an update was necessary because of laws which needed to be implemented.

Kendall said his team is also working with industry to help reduce overhead, which he said are– things that are adding cost, but not adding value.

DODís acquisition professionals want to get to the specifics, Kendall said. Itís not about reform, itís about improvement and specific things we can do to move us forward and in the right direction.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Air Force photograph by MSgt. Chuck Marsh

‘NORAD Tracks Santa’: Bringing him to a home near you

Air Force photograph by MSgt. Chuck Marsh Volunteers monitor phones and computers to talk with children while tracking Santa Claus at the North American Aerospace Defense Command Tracks Santa Operations Center at Peterson Air F...
 
 

Headlines December 24, 2014

Business: Boeing, U.S. Navy in talks about stretching EA-18G jet production - The U.S. Navy Dec. 19 said it was in talks with Boeing Co about slowing production of its EA-18G electronic attack jets to keep the St. Louis facility running through the end of 2017, after Congress approved funding for 15 more planes. Navy’s $2.5...
 
 

News Briefs December 24, 2014

Chinese military plane crashes; two deaths reported A Chinese military plane crashed in the country’s northwest Dec. 22 and a news website says at least two people were killed. The plane crashed at about 3 p.m. near the city of Weinan, about 600 miles west of Beijing, in Shaanxi province, according to the local fire...
 

 
LM-exoskeleton

Lockheed Martin’s exoskeleton wins design awards, honors

Lockheed Martin’s FORTIS exoskeleton received several accolades in 2014 highlighting its innovative technology design and its benefit to users in an industrial setting. This year, FORTIS was recognized with a Gold Spark Award...
 
 

DOD releases 2015 military pay, compensation rates

Dec. 22, the Department of Defense announced the 2015 military pay and compensation rates for service members, with most service members receiving a one percent increase in basic pay. The new rates for basic pay, basic allowance for housing, basic allowance for subsistence, and the cost of living allowance rates for the contiguous United States...
 
 

Astronics to scquire Armstrong Aerospace

Astronics Corporation, a leading provider of advanced technologies for the global aerospace and defense industries, announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Armstrong Aerospace for approximately $51 million. The agreement is expected to close in January 2015, subject to normal closing requirements. Armstrong Aerospace, located in Itasca, Illinois, is a...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>