News in Brief

McCain on defense bill, NGA on Hootenanny, Army on battlefield tech

McCain at Heritage today.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., spoke at the Heritage Foundation on July 15. (Photo: Sean Lyngaas, FCW)

McCain defends acquisition provision, frets about veto

Arizona Republican John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said a conversation with Defense Secretary Ashton Carter left him "very concerned" that President Barack Obama will veto the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill.

Carter told the Arizona Republican he is recommending the president veto the measure as it stands, McCain said in a July 15 appearance at the Heritage Foundation. The more than $600 billion bill passed the Senate last month. The Obama administration has objected to the bill's use of overseas contingency operations funding rather than base budgeting to meet policy priorities.

When asked about his disagreement with Frank Kendall, the Pentagon's top acquisition official, over the extent to which acquisition reform should empower the service chiefs, McCain said that "Mr. Kendall chose ... to attack me in the media without ever talking to me, which is his privilege." Kendall, the undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, told Breaking Defense recently that the bill's acquisition provision "destroys my ability to lead" because it devolves power from his office to the services.

McCain said he also spoke at length with Carter about the acquisition dispute with Kendall. "There's a weird interpretation now that [the bill] takes away the authority of the secretary of Defense," McCain said. "The service chiefs work for the secretary of Defense; he doesn't work for them. So we're making them responsible for many of these programs that have gone amok, including over the five years of Mr. Kendall's time" at AT&L. The cost of weapons systems has spiraled out of control, McCain added, and "to do business as usual would be insanity."

Hootenanny crowdsources geospatial data analysis

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency has publicly released Hootenanny, a software toolkit designed to harness the power of crowdsourced mapping for geospatial big data analytics, GCN reports.

Posted on GitHub, the open source project provides a scalable processing engine and interactive editing interface to help users rapidly conflate, or reconcile, map features generated from satellite imagery, unmanned aerial vehicles and mobile devices.

Army's new war game to focus on tech, innovations

The Army is shifting the way it develops new technologies for the battlefield, Defense Systems reports. The service is replacing one of the two annual Network Integration Evaluations with the broader Army Warfighting Assessment, which will focus on innovation and developing partnerships with industry and academia.

The Army recently issued a sources sought notice looking for potential candidates to take part in the next AWA, scheduled to begin Oct. 17, 2016. Responses are due by July 31.

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