Special Panel to Identify Fixes for DoD's Acquisition Woes
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 4, 2005 The U.S. military's weapons-development and acquisition programs are broken and need big fixes, a senior Defense Department official said here Oct 3.
Capitol Hill legislators' and senior Pentagon executives' concerns about increased weapons costs, lengthy development times, and proper oversight and accounting of taxpayer dollars have prompted the department to conduct a top-to-bottom review of its entire acquisition process, the senior official told reporters at a Pentagon roundtable.
That review, the Defense Acquisition Performance Assessment Project, was directed by acting Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England in July, the official said. The review's recommendations are to be presented to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in November.
"I am authorizing an integrated acquisition assessment to consider every aspect of acquisition, including requirements, organization, legal foundations," England wrote in a June 7 memorandum that outlined his philosophy for the review.
The review project will produce "a recommended acquisition structure and processes with clear alignment of responsibility, authority and accountability," England continued in the memo, noting, "Simplicity is desirable," and "Restructuring acquisition is critical and essential."
The U.S. military continues to receive the best equipment in the world, the senior DoD official said. The project seeks to identify and then implement ways to change the present acquisition system to more efficiently manage taxpayer dollars and better serve warfighters, he explained.
Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronald T. Kadish, the former director of DoD's Missile Defense Agency, chairs the DAPA project's five-member primary panel. The project is also soliciting opinion from acquisition- and defense-industry experts from inside and outside the government, the official noted.
The official said the results from the project would be rolled into the upcoming Quadrennial Defense Review, which identifies what the military needs to accomplish its missions.
The panel is still collecting data and isn't ready to announce recommendations, the official said. But, he noted, unlike the Packard Commission study of military acquisition processes that was conducted 20 years ago, many of this panel's approved recommendations would be implemented.