November 06, 2012
Credit: Credit: DoD photo by Master Sgt. Ken Hammond, USAF
The Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer mapped out the next phase of a “better buying power” initiative on Mo nday, saying the U.S. military could do “infinitely better” in the way it buys weapons and services.
Frank Kendall, undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, shared key details at a conference hosted by the National Government Contract Management ahead of the formal release of updated acquisition reform guidelines next week.
In addition to updating the “better buying power” initiative first released just over two years ago, Kendall said the Pentagon would also start a year-long review of its current 5000-series acquisition rules, which have grown cumbersome and unwieldy due to piecemeal legislation in recent years.
At the same time, officials would gather more data on the Pentagon’s own track record on procurement, Kendall said. He noted an initial review revealed little change in procurement programs over the past 30 years despite repeated reform efforts.
He said new weapons programs generally had cost overruns of 27 to 28 percent, while major weapons programs were often 8 to 9 percent over budget during the early years of production.
Lockheed Martin Corp, Boeing Co, Northrop Grumman Corp, General Dynamics Corp, Raytheon Co and other defense firms are awaiting news on the Pentagon’s approach to contracts as they brace for lower defense spending after more than a decade of growth.
In recent years, many of the companies have criticized the Pentagon’s war on overhead costs, arguing that government oversight itself sometimes makes weapons more expensive. They have also cited long delays in getting contracts signed.
Kendall said the new acquisition initiatives were developed with input from U.S. weapons makers and service providers, and would actually roll back a few directives in the last version.
He insisted the department wanted to preserve a “healthy, efficient and effective” defense industrial base that was able to generate good profits, but said the sector also needed to be more “lean” in the current austere environment.