A $612 billion 2016 defense authorization bill that recently cleared committee in the Senate makes a major point of rectifying shortfalls in the acquisition, going so far as to treat them as a national security threat. At the same time, the bill also seeks to hasten cuts in headquarters personnel at the Pentagon as a cost-cutting measure. Learn more about the Senate defense bill in this week’s blog.
New Senate Defense Bill Proposes Acquisition Reforms, Cuts
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., framed the Senate defense bill as a reform bill, citing the areas of acquisition, military retirement, personnel, and headquarters and management as targets of reform. McCain noted that the committee had identified $10 billion in excess spending that the bill would redirect towards reinvestment in military capabilities and reforms.
A summary from the committee re the Senate defense bill cited acquisition reform as a major area of concern.
“An acquisition system that takes too long and costs too much is leading to the erosion of America’s defense technological advantage, which the United States will lose altogether if the department continues with business as usual. In short, our broken defense acquisition system is a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States.”
According to Government Executive, the Senate defense bill would pursue the following objectives re acquisition reforms:
-Clarify the role of senior officials to streamline decision making and promote accountability, while elevating the role of the service chiefs to decentralize authority.
-Develop flexible alternative acquisition “pathways” to allow accelerated prototyping and field testing within five years, while allowing more acquisition authority to the U.S. Cyber Command.
-Improve access to non-traditional and commercial contractors to encourage competition and innovation.
-Reduce unnecessary requirements, reports and certifications to streamline purchasing of weapons, services and information technology.
-Improve the quality of the acquisition workforce by renewing its development fund and establishing direct-hire authorities for employees with science, technology, engineering and math skills.
In addition to acquisition reforms, the Senate defense bill seeks to hasten the “downsizing and streamlining [of] DoD management headquarters.” “The legislation would require the Pentagon to submit an implementation plan by Jan.1, 2016,” and would save $6.8 billion by its fourth year in operation.
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