Carter Says Better Buying Power 2.0 Key to Managing Sequestration
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 24, 2013 Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter underscored yesterday the importance of the Better Buying Power 2.0 initiative in the wake of sequestration’s effects on the Defense Department.
Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the deputy defense secretary, joined by Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, highlighted the increased importance of the initiative.
“Achieving Better Buying Power would, of course, be an important goal in any budget environment, but its importance has only grown given the strategic and budgetary challenges we now face,” Carter said.
“Since Better Buying Power was first unveiled, Congress passed the Budget Control Act, which required the department to cut $487 billion from our defense plans over 10 years,” he said.
Carter said this process began after devising a new defense strategy to guide the department’s leadership “as we turn a strategic corner from the post-9/11 era dominated by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to an era defined by new challenges and new opportunities.”
“It's still true today, as it was then, that every dollar not wasted is a dollar that can be invested in these new capabilities,” he said.
“Due to the collateral damage of political gridlock here in Washington,” Carter said, “we are now also operating under sequestration.”
Sequestration requires the department to subtract an additional $37 billion from its budget for the remainder of fiscal year 2013, he said, and “sequester presumes that we take equal or proportionate share from each and every part of the budget, which is the worst managerial approach possible.”
The deputy defense secretary said sequester is not only regrettable in its own right, but also distracts from the true strategic and managerial tasks faced by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the department.
“Secretary Hagel and I, and the entire leadership of the department, are doing everything we possibly can under this deliberately restrictive law to mitigate its harmful effects on national security, he said. “But as the Joint Chiefs have emphasized repeatedly, the impacts on our readiness are real, and in many cases, irreversible.”
The deputy defense secretary said the impetus to the better buying initiatives came from former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ anticipation of the impending fiscal environment.
“It was two years ago at the Eisenhower Library that then-Secretary of Defense [Robert M.] Gates spoke presciently … about the days of ever-increasing defense budgets soon coming to an end as our elected leaders grappled with our fiscal circumstances,” Carter said.
In acknowledgement of that coming fiscal reality, and in an effort to minimize the impact of it, he said, Gates launched an initiative to ensure that the department would not be forced to sacrifice, wherever possible, an ounce more force structure than was necessary.
Carter noted this was the introduction to what is now referred to as Better Buying Power 1.0, which he and Kendall introduced in September 2010.
“Better Buying Power's goal was … more capability for the warfighter and more value for the taxpayer by obtaining greater efficiency and productivity in defense spending -- what economists call productivity growth,” he said.
In order to achieve these objectives, Carter said, there were 23 principal actions directed in five major areas:
-- Targeting affordability and cost growth in defense programs;
-- Incentivizing productivity and innovation in industry through profit and partnership;
-- Promoting real competition wherever possible;
-- Improving tradecraft in the acquisition of services as opposed to goods; and
-- Reducing nonproductive processes and bureaucracy in the government and in industry.
During the past two-and-a-half years, Carter said, the department has worked hard -- with some considerable success in some major programs -- to implement these directives, acknowledging Better Buying Power 1.0 wouldn’t get everything right the first time around.
“We also knew that industry would continue to come to the table with good ideas and constructive criticism,” he said.
A notable feature of Better Buying Power 2.0, Carter said, is improving the professionalism of the total acquisition workforce, which encompasses program management, engineering, contracting and product support disciplines.
“We know that the quality of our people is an essential ingredient to our success as an acquisition enterprise,” he said.
As the department continues to implement Better Buying Power, Carter said, it looks forward to working with its industry partners and acquisition workforce to do more every year to get more value for the taxpayer and the warfighter.
“In fact, that's what Better Buying Power 2.0 is all about, just like Better Buying Power 1.0,” he said.
Carter commended Kendall and his acquisition team for their continuing efforts to improve the success of the Better Buying Power initiative.
“I salute Frank, who was my partner then, and is now, the leader of this effort, and his team, which is here, for their excellent work,” he said.
“The success of our Better Buying Power effort, and the Defense Enterprise, is clearly dependent on getting superior value for the taxpayers' dollar and for the war fighter,” he said.