Mr. Chairman, members of the committee and staff, I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss our strategy to conduct public/private competitions for the workloads currently being performed at Sacramento and San Antonio Air Logistics Centers. I want to assure you, up-front, that these competitions will be fair and open.
As I told you in February, my objective -- as Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology -- is to provide our fighting forces with the best possible military equipment and to maintain it at the highest state of readiness, and yet to do this at significantly lower equipment and support costs. The empirical data are clear: the way to achieve better results at lower costs is to use competitive market forces.
For competitive sourcing to work, the process must be fair and open. To that extent, I would like to review some of the actions we have taken to ensure that the competitions we are discussing today will meet that standard.
The Defense Depot Maintenance Council, comprised of senior logisticians from each of the military services, has reviewed and approved the workloads to be competed as a result of the BRAC [base realignment and closure] decision. The solicitations under consideration mandate the use of the Cost Comparability Handbook, which was developed by the department in cooperation with both the public and the private sectors. In order to help ensure fairness, draft requests for proposals were available for review and comment for an extended period of time. Comments were received and incorporated in the formal RFP [request for proposal]. The RFPs were reviewed by the GAO [General Accounting Office]. We have appointed three experienced outside independent advisors to assist in ensuring that the complete source selection process is conducted with integrity and in a manner that is consistent with the requests for proposals and the evaluation criteria. These advisors will have access to all source selection information they need. I will expect them to confirm the objectivity and fairness of the process. As required by law, the GAO will review the procedures used to reach decisions on awards under the solicitations and will present its findings to the Congress. I also want to note that the Source Selection Authority for these efforts -- Mrs. [Darleen] Druyun [Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition and Management] -- is known for her objectivity, honesty and scrupulous adherence to the stated Source Selection process. She also has extensive knowledge of both the formal government procurement process and the substantive area of technical expertise required for these two evaluations.
In regard to this last point, I know the committee is aware that the public/private competitions for the workloads at McClellan and Kelly Air Force Bases are currently in progress. In her role as SSA, Mrs. Druyun is bound by the Procurement Integrity Act to take care not to release information that may jeopardize these source selections. I believe discussing source selection sensitive information in public would be in direct conflict with the intent of the Congress to have unbiased source selections. I ask you to understand that this may require abbreviated answers on her part or even her stepping outside the hearing room at times. I hope you will honor our desire not to discuss sensitive source selection information in public.
I would also request respectfully that, in view of our concerns and the committee's concerns about protecting the integrity of the source selection process, Mrs. Druyun be excused from the hearing during your questions for Mr. [F. Whitten] Peters [Under Secretary of the Air Force] and for me. Perhaps you might consider posing your questions for Mrs. Druyun first, excuse her, and then continue with the hearing.
In closing, I would like once again to assure the committee of my personal commitment to assuring fairness to both public and private competitors in these competitions and throughout our overall maintenance program. I believe we share the same objectives: higher performance; and improved readiness at lower costs; and a procurement process that is fully open and fair.
Thank you very much.
Published by the American Forces Information Service, a field activity of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs), Washington, D.C. Parenthetical entries are speaker/author notes; bracketed entries are editorial notes. This material is in the public domain and may be reprinted without permission.