Carter Outlines Military Acquisition Improvements

WASHINGTON, April 14, 2011 — The Defense Depart­ment has made much progress toward buy­ing and field­ing equip­ment smarter and faster, the Pentagon’s under­sec­re­tary for acqui­si­tions, tech­nol­o­gy and logis­tics told a con­gres­sion­al pan­el yes­ter­day.
At a time when Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma and Con­gress look for ways to fix the nation’s finances, Ash­ton B. Carter out­lined progress to the House Appro­pri­a­tions Committee’s defense sub­com­mit­tee.

“I would point out that the answers to the nation’s bud­get woes do not exist pri­mar­i­ly in the Depart­ment of Defense, and with­in DOD they also do not exist sole­ly or even pri­mar­i­ly in acqui­si­tion,” Carter said in a pre­pared state­ment.

The administration’s pro­posed fis­cal 2012 bud­get includes $78 bil­lion cut from the pre­dict­ed rate of growth in DOD over­head. Of that, $4 bil­lion comes from acqui­si­tions, all of which result­ed from restruc­tur­ing the F‑35 joint strike fight­er pro­gram, Carter said.

Defense offi­cials have made hard choic­es in can­cel­ing some weapons pro­grams and restruc­tur­ing oth­ers when the depart­ment was not get­ting a good return on invest­ment, Carter said. The changes include:

— Issu­ing a stop-work order on the F136 engine for the F‑35, which was cost­ing the depart­ment rough­ly $1 mil­lion per day and would require near­ly $3 bil­lion to bring to com­ple­tion; and

— Can­cel­ing the Marine Corps’ expe­di­tionary fight­ing vehi­cle and real­lo­cat­ing funds to exist­ing Marine ground com­bat require­ments. The EFV con­sumed more than $3 bil­lion, would cost anoth­er $12 bil­lion to com­plete, and if con­tin­ued over two decades, would expend more than half of the Corps’ pro­cure­ment funds.

Carter said the depart­ment has demon­strat­ed improved process­es in the acqui­si­tion and man­age­ment of sev­er­al pro­grams, includ­ing:

— The KC-46A aer­i­al refu­el­ing tanker, which he called a mod­el of how a solic­i­ta­tion process should work when the con­tract was award­ed in Feb­ru­ary;

— The next two advanced extreme­ly high fre­quen­cy satel­lites, designed to reduce costs and allow for future invest­ments that will low­er risks in tech­nol­o­gy; and

— The Navy’s replace­ment to Ohio-class bal­lis­tic mis­sile sub­marines, for which engi­neer­ing trade­offs have reduced aver­age pro­cure­ment costs by 16 per­cent.

Such improve­ments are being made by new Pen­ta­gon direc­tives to over­see pro­grams based on what they should cost, rather than accept­ing only what man­u­fac­tur­ers say they will cost, and by demon­strat­ing afford­abil­i­ty through­out the process, Carter said.

Mov­ing for­ward, Carter has direct­ed the depart­ment to more aggres­sive­ly man­age the more than $200 bil­lion it spends annu­al­ly on ser­vices, which con­sumes just over half of all DOD con­tract dol­lars.

In oth­er areas, the under­sec­re­tary asked the sub­com­mit­tee to sup­port Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates’ ini­tia­tive to revi­tal­ize the acqui­si­tions work­force by sup­port­ing his fis­cal 2012 bud­get request for $734 mil­lion for new hires.

Gates’ plan to grow the acqui­si­tions work­force by 10,000 work­ers is an excep­tion to bud­get lev­els that freeze the remain­der of depart­ment staff to fis­cal 2010 lev­els, Carter said. The depart­ment has hired 4,200 peo­ple toward the 10,000 goal, he said.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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