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Obama Praises Support for Pentagon Procurement Reform

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 30, 2009 – There is strong support on Capitol Hill for Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ procurement-reform efforts at the Pentagon, President Barack Obama told reporters at a White House news conference today.

Obama was accompanied by Sen. Carl Levin, D–Mich., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the chairman and ranking minority member, respectively, of the Senate Armed Services Committee; and Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., and Rep. John McHugh, R-N.Y., the chairman and ranking minority member, respectively, of the House Armed Services Committee.

“These four leaders have put together a procurement reform package that is long overdue,” Obama said of the four legislators’ efforts. “They’ve shown extraordinary courage and extraordinary leadership in moving it forward.”

The legislators’ work on Pentagon procurement reform mirror sGates’ concerns about wasting taxpayer dollars on unnecessary or too-costly weapons systems.

During the development of the Pentagon’s fiscal year 2010 budget, Gates proposed eliminating or reducing funding for several defense projects that incurred large cost overruns or didn’t perform.

Gates told reporters at an April 6 Pentagon news conference that “every defense dollar spent to over-insure against a remote or diminishing risk – or, in effect, to ‘run up the score’ in a capability where the United States is already dominant – is a dollar not available to take care of our people, reset the force, win the wars we are in, and improve capabilities in areas where we are underinvested and potentially vulnerable.”

“That is a risk I will not take,” Gates added.

“Secretary Gates has done a tremendous job with the budget that he’s crafted, going forward, in reflecting some of the same principles, that we spend our money where it’s needed, based on national security interests and not based on politics,” Obama said.

Obama suggested that Gates’ efforts should be emulated across the federal government.

“And, I’m going to be urging everybody to take a hard, close look at the reforms that Secretary Gates has proposed,” Obama said. “I think it’s part and parcel at the overall attempt at gaining efficiency and improving our national security.”

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President Barack Obama
Robert M. Gates

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