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House panel takes on DOD procurement reform

Mac Thornberry

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) will spearhead an initiative to overhaul DOD's acquisition process.

Members of the House Armed Services Committee are set to launch a long-term reform effort aimed at the Defense Department, including an emphasis on overhauling the acquisition process.

At an Oct. 29 hearing, Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) announced that Vice Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) would spearhead the initiative, with assistance from ranking Democrat Adam Smith of Washington.

"We cannot afford a costly and ineffective acquisition system, particularly when faced with devastating impacts of repeated budget cuts and sequestration," McKeon said in an opening statement at the hearing. "The Congress, together with the Department of Defense and industry, must be willing to do the hard work to find root causes, look past band-aid fixes and parochial interests, and have the courage to implement meaningful, lasting reform."

McKeon added that the initiative would include a "hard look at acquisition."

In an Oct. 29 opinion piece for Real Clear Defense, Thornberry called for defense acquisition reform as a top priority, noting that as much as 10 percent of federal discretionary spending goes toward military purchasing. He blamed "heavy federal regulations" for driving up costs.

"There are nearly 2,000 pages of acquisition regulations on the books, many of which have not been reviewed in years," Thornberry wrote. "Too often, Congress and the Pentagon respond to cost overruns by adding another law or an additional oversight office. The situation has gotten so bad that in order to supply our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, entire new streamlined procurement systems were created in order to circumvent the normal process."

At least one industry group praised the proposed efforts. In an Oct. 29 statement, Professional Services Council CEO and President Stan Soloway urged the committee to consider recommendations PSC issued earlier this year.

"The recognition by Chairman McKeon and Ranking Member Smith of the importance of seriously and thoughtfully addressing the persistent challenges in defense acquisition today is an important first step," said Soloway. "Given constrained resources, massive demographic challenges, and the nature and pace of technology development, now is the time to act boldly, broadly and smartly."

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Reader comments

Sun, Nov 3, 2013 Jaime Gracia Washington, DC

Perhaps Rep. Thornberry can discuss the proliferation of the jobs programs that members of Congress impose on the acquisition process, at the expense of national security and the taxpayers. The M1A Abrams program is a perfect example of the stranglehold the military-industrial-lobbyist-self-interest Congressperson complex has on our defense budget. Further, how does Congress expect Defense to grow its acquisition personnel when some members of Congress have done everything in their power to bring on needless sequestration cuts, across the board budget cuts, and demonize civilian workers?

Thu, Oct 31, 2013 Al

Life is full of trade-offs, and there are no easy answers. The only simple and elegant solution is to buy less.

Wed, Oct 30, 2013

The old acquisition process overhaul. Let's empower our employees! Our employees are too empowered! Make up more rules! We have too many employees! We should use contractors! We pay too much for contracts! The contractors run the Government! There's too many rules. We don't have enough employees! Let's hire more employees! Repeat forever every 10-15 years.

Wed, Oct 30, 2013

I hope this eager beaver gets those of us who use the system involved in his "reform" efforts. I suspect he has no experience in these matters.....let's hope he has some common sense and asks lots of questions.

Wed, Oct 30, 2013

Rewrite Title 10 to take control of the money away from the services, and start running DoD like one agency, instead of five seperate ones? Just sayin'.

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