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Acquisition Community Works to Improve Tradecraft

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 17, 2014 – Everything the defense acquisition community is doing now is being done to improve its “tradecraft,” Katrina G. McFarland, the assistant secretary of defense for acquisition said yesterday.

McFarland made the comments at the National Defense Industrial Association’s National Logistics Forum.

Improving tradecraft is something DOD would want to do in the best of times, she said, but the added pressures of budget constraints make this even more crucial to the nation.

“Every facet of our business practice ties together,” she told the National Defense Industrial Association’s National Logistics Forum.

The attention cannot be on one segment of operation in the acquisition process, but the whole gamut, the assistant secretary said.

The acquisition field now builds on the process of continuous improvement put forth in the Better Buying Power program. McFarland expects a Better Buying Power 3.0 to launch soon.

“The intent is basically to have people think about costs when they are applying logic to design, manufacturing, sustainment -- whatever facet of acquisition there is.”

“We will reward people who reduce costs with more profit,” she said. “We’re incentivizing to reduce costs. We want innovation that costs less.

“Our challenge is communicating that intent articulately and over the time of many years at war and conducting business that had to be done rapidly; we didn’t necessarily spend enough time on the tradecraft of skillfully crafting a good deal,” she continued. “And that’s where we are trying to make changes.”

The acquisition community is continuing down this path because it is working. Even with budget uncertainties, there have been demonstrable savings, McFarland said. Following the tenets of the Better Buying Power program, having conversations with industry partners and making training available to acquisition workers “has demonstrated improvements in our costs even as we downsize,” she said. “This shows there is tradecraft we can measure.”

Results from the changes don’t happen overnight, she said. In the military, when a service introduces or changes a military job the “turn” is about four years,” she said. Using this as a rough measure, the acquisition workforce is seeing change and the “turn” is starting to bear fruit. She expects this to speed up in the future.

Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @garamoneAFPS)


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Katrina G. McFarland

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