DOD Supports Continuing Timely Procurement Law, Official Says
By Nick Simeone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 16, 2013 A senior Defense Department official told Congress today the Pentagon fully supports reauthorization of a law that grants the president the power to ensure timely procurement of essential services and materials during war or national emergencies and to guarantee the nation’s industrial base remains a reliable supplier.
Frank Kendall, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, called the Defense Production Act an urgent operational requirement needed as much today as it was 60 years ago.
In recent years, government agencies have used the authority to speed the delivery of equipment needed to restore rail service after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and to provide services in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in October of last year.
Most recently, it has enabled the rapid fielding of items such as systems to counter improvised explosive devices; mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles; and intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance platforms, among many others, Kendall told the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.
While not always invoked, DPA authority is part of all DOD contracts and requires periodic reauthorization by Congress. Parts of the act are set to expire, and today’s hearing was called to hear testimony from the Defense Department and other agencies on its reauthorization, which is considered routine.
Kendall said the law remains vital to national defense by ensuring the private sector continues to produce goods and services the government may need during emergencies, but that may no longer be in demand on the commercial market.
“Industry has no obligation to prioritize national security requirements,” he added, “and at times, they’re financially motivated to do otherwise.”
He noted as well that financial incentives provided to U.S. industry reduce the likelihood of the government having to rely on foreign suppliers. “New, expanded and modernized domestic industrial capabilities reduce the risk of foreign dependencies caused by geopolitical factors or other economic issues and strengthen the economic and technological competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers,” he said.
Kendall also told the committee he is concerned about the level of cyberattacks affecting defense suppliers and that he is considering changes in contracting procedures to mitigate the risk of corporate espionage.
“I’m talking particularly about design information which might not be classified, but if you acquired that information, it certainly shortens your lead time to build things, and it reduces your costs,” he explained. “That’s an advantage we don’t want to give our potential adversaries.”