DOD rethinks wartime acquisition

Plans for new contingency contracting office reflect a shift toward better oversight

GAO report on Iraq contracting

Pentagon officials are planning to create a new office to manage the military’s acquisition of goods and services during war and post-conflict operations.

The contingency acquisition support office would be tightly integrated into combat operations planning at the combatant commands so officials can better anticipate war-related purchases, according to documents and sources.

The Defense Department is spending billions in Iraq and Afghanistan on logistics support services for U.S. troops and the rebuilding of civilian infrastructure. The Government Accountability Office said in a December 2006 report that DOD is not receiving “reasonable assurance that contractors are meeting contract requirements efficiently and effectively at each location where work is being performed.”

The office would consist of a garrison component in the United States focusing on the planning pieces, and acquisition experts from a deployable joint acquisition command would go to combat zones to oversee the execution of contracts, said military sources who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity because top DOD leaders have not yet signed off on the proposal.

Plans for the office were part of a last-minute package for Kenneth Krieg, former undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, according to one Pentagon official. But Krieg, who announced his resignation in June, left DOD July 20, before acting on the proposal. His designated successor, John Young, is expected to review the matter soon, sources said
As envisioned, DOD would organize the office under the Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va., according to military sources and DOD briefing slides obtained by Federal Computer Week. A two-star general would serve as its director.

The stateside contingency acquisition support group would coordinate with combatant commands and other government agencies to anticipate future conflicts. The group also would examine the indigenous industrial base in potential crisis regions worldwide to get an idea of what DOD could quickly buy from local companies.

In combat areas, members of the joint acquisition command would be responsible for quickly awarding and managing contracts.

According to sources, contingency acquisition support planners want to incorporate lessons learned from the Pentagon’s Task Force to Improve Business and Stability Operations in Iraq, led by Paul Brinkley, deputy undersecretary of Defense for business transformation. Brinkley’s staff has been helping revitalize Iraq’s economy and reduce unemployment. Task force officials have reactivated several formerly state-run factories and offered employment to local residents. DOD leaders have said they believe increasing the number of jobs will keep Iraqis from taking up arms against U.S. forces.

Pentagon officials said the influence of Brinkley’s work on the support office could lead to a dramatic shift in contingency contracting toward giving indigenous companies preference over U.S. businesses whenever possible.
Rand weighs in on proposed acquisition officeA Rand Corp. report published in 2006 recommended locating a new acquisition office for stability operations at the Defense Logistics Agency at Fort Belvoir, Va. Rand researchers said DLA was the best choice for handling contingency acquisition duties because of its global presence and contracting experience. The report advised against locating the office at a combatant command, which the Defense Department has proposed doing.

“Joint Forces Command comes the closest, since it does plan and provide forces for global operations, but it does not have the global presence and international infrastructure” that would be required for a contingency acquisition support office, according to Rand’s report.
— Sebastian Sprenger

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.


  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group