Defense

Can Better Buying Power 3.0 preserve America's tech edge?

Frank Kendall

Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall (shown here) and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel both argued on Sept. 3 that defense acquisition reform has strategic implications in addition to budgetary ones.

The next phase of the Pentagon's attempt to improve how it buys both weapons and IT will focus on shoring up what senior Defense Department officials say is an increasingly tenuous American lead in technological know-how.

The latest acquisition reform program, which a DOD spokeswoman said could be unveiled as early as Sept. 12, will focus on getting proven technology in the hands of soldiers faster, said Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall.

Whereas Better Buying Power 1.0 and 2.0 centered on business practices and decision-making, respectively, version three will "get us back to our products and what we're actually trying to deliver to the warfighters," Kendall said in a Sept. 3 speech at the National Press Club. "It's going to be about innovation; it's going to be about technical excellence." An engineer by training, Kendall said he would relish the turn to a more technical phase of acquisition reform.

Kendall's preview of Better Buying Power 3.0 came with an underlying sense of urgency to implement it. "I am deeply concerned about the fact that we are at risk of losing our technological superiority in certain areas of warfare," he said, adding that the defense modernization programs of Russia and China are designed to curtail America's military edge.

A few hours later, and a few hundred miles to the northeast, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel echoed that concern for the department's foothold in innovation. If Washington does not address challenges like the asymmetry of cyberspace and the intent of Russia and China to counter America's ability to project power, the U.S. military could find itself "in a future combat theater facing an arsenal of advanced, disruptive technologies that thwart our technological advantages…" Hagel told the Southeastern New England Defense Industry Alliance, in Newport, R.I.

BBP 3.0 differs from other iterations of acquisition guidance, Hagel said, in featuring "more use of modular and open systems architectures; providing industry with draft requirements earlier; removing obstacles to procuring commercial items; and, improving our technology search and outreach in global markets."

The Pentagon has made the geopolitical stakes of acquisition clear before, charging in an annual report to Congress that China had stolen U.S. intellectual property related to "key national security technologies."

About the Author

Sean Lyngaas is a former FCW staff writer.

Featured

  • Defense
    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) reveal concept renderings for the Next NGA West (N2W) campus from the design-build team McCarthy HITT winning proposal. The entirety of the campus is anticipated to be operational in 2025.

    How NGA is tackling interoperability challenges

    Mark Munsell, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s CTO, talks about talent shortages and how the agency is working to get more unclassified data.

  • Veterans Affairs
    Veterans Affairs CIO Jim Gfrerer speaks at an Oct. 10 FCW event (Photo credit: Troy K. Schneider)

    VA's pivot to agile

    With 10 months on the job, Veterans Affairs CIO Jim Gfrerer is pushing his organization toward a culture of constant delivery.

Stay Connected

FCW INSIDER

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.