February 22, 2013
Credit: David B. Gleason
The Pentagon’s top weapons buyer on Thursday authorized Defense Department purchasers and program managers to begin talking to industry partners about plans for implementing $46 billion in budget cuts on March 1 and what impact it may have on business.
The directions from Frank Kendall, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, were the first time Pentagon contracting and acquisitions personnel have been authorized to consult with their industry counterparts about the upcoming spending cuts, known as sequestration.
Kendall said in a February 21 memorandum obtained by Reuters that Pentagon purchasers and program managers were “encouraged” to begin making contact with industry counterparts at the discretion of their managers and chains of command.
“It is important we keep industry informed about our plans and involved in our decision-making process to the maximum extent possible, particularly when ongoing or upcoming contract awards may be affected,” Kendall said in the memo.
Company officials said they had been warning of the damage sequestration could cause and had been pressing for a solution.
“For over a year, Northrop Grumman has been vocal about the negative impacts sequestration will have on national security, the industrial base, the supplier chain, the workforce, and the national economy,” Northrop Vice President Randy Belote said.
An official at another company, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, “we’re encouraged by any efforts, and we’re working closely with our customers to understand how sequestration could impact our programs.”
“Significant delays in funding for any production program could threaten the stability of our supply chains, increase costs, prolong delivery schedules and ultimately weaken our national security posture,” the official said.
The authorization for Pentagon purchasing officials to begin talking to their industry counterparts comes a week before $46 billion in across-the-board spending cuts are scheduled to go into force on March 1.