Pentagon racing to reform procurement

Acquisition reformers within the Pentagon are racing to get things done

before the Clinton administration leaves office, including a major initiative

to fundamentally alter the procurement process, according to Stan Soloway,

deputy undersecretary of Defense for acquisition reform.

"This is a really big deal," Soloway said.

Within the next week, Defense Department leaders are expected to sign off

on a new acquisition plan that, among other things, will provide contractors

with greater flexibility, take greater advantage of commercial products

and enable DOD to field systems before they become obsolete.

"We have some systems that will come online with scores of obsolete components

that will no longer be in production," Soloway said. "In some cases those

components might not be critical, but in some cases, they might. That's

what the [new procurement process] really speaks to."

The new acquisition process allows requirements for a system to evolve over

time as technology matures and risks are understood. That means the Pentagon

can wait until it is certain a system will fully meet its needs before committing

long-term funding to the program.

"We will not, if we do this right, commit to system Y as a solution until

the components or elements, the key technologies, of system Y have been

matured and proven out," Soloway said.

Other acquisition reform issues the Pentagon is tackling before year's end

include:

* Expanding military specification reform efforts to include systems already

in use rather than just new systems.

* Making performance-based contracting a reality.

* Laying the groundwork for solving work force issues, such as personnel

shortages.

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