Gates to outline new acquisition guidelines

DOD secretary expected to lay out a guide for moving ahead with acquisition reforms and budget cuts

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Ashton Carter, chief of the Defense Department’s procurement policy, are expected to speak Sept. 14 about new guidelines on Gates’ acquisition and procurement initiatives, the department announced today.


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DOD officials have not officially released details on the guidelines. But in August, Gates gave a few details on plans to shave $100 billion from the defense budget over the next five years by spending less money. Among the cuts, DOD’s IT infrastructure and offices are on the chopping block. Gates intends to reduce funding for support contractor employees by 10 percent a year for the next three years.

In addition, the secretary said the plan to insource work from contractors has not yielded as much savings as expected.

“The problem with contractors is — and what we’ve learned over the past year — is you really don’t get at contractors by cutting people,” Gates said. He said contractors get the money from a contract and then hire as many people as they think is necessary to do the work. “So the only way, we’ve decided, that you get at the contractor base is to cut the dollars.”

In other acquisition reforms, Carter, undersecretary for acquisition, technology, and logistics, gave some ideas earlier this year on closing the budget gap. He wants to take aim at contracting activities, particularly at the different types of contracts, program costs, and the practices that surround them. He talked about cutting back on contracts that come with an award fee or incentive for contractors to do their work well. The Obama administration has worked to minimize these types of cost-reimbursement contracts throughout the government.

Carter also outlined plans to trim excess spending, while leaving open the repercussions for companies that don’t work to get leaner.

“This is about costs, not profits," Carter said. "We want to use profits as an incentive for the defense industry, an incentive for saving taxpayer dollars.”

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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Reader comments

Tue, Sep 14, 2010

Oneof the primary costs of contracts, regardless if its worked inside or by contractors, is the poor definition of requirements at the very beginning of the project thus resulting in the project ending over budget and past due date. Cutting people is not going to fix this problem and may even end up costing more. Suggest you start by addressing the real problem first.

Tue, Sep 14, 2010 Susan

The problem with contractors is — and what we’ve learned over the past year — is you really don’t get at contractors by cutting people,” Gates said. He said contractors get the money from a contract and then hire as many people as they think is necessary to do the work. “So the only way, we’ve decided, that you get at the contractor base is to cut the dollars.” But...where does it say in the contract that the contractor can only hire x people? Are we worried about the number of people doing the work or the number of dollars spent to get the work done? What is the measurement? And, what are the standards we are hoping to meet?

Tue, Sep 14, 2010 Barry Little Rock AFB

In the past there has been many changes in the procurement field. In my 20 years in procurement this is one of the best changes that has been proposed. With all the focus that we put on past performance and have for a few years incentive tiype contracts should have went out at that time. Thanks for the great news.Barry

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