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Work: Better Buying Power 3.0 Strives to Enhance U.S. Tech Edge

April 9, 2015 | BY Jim Garamone , DOD News
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The United States must maintain technological superiority over potential adversaries and competitors, and the latest iteration of the Defense Department’s Better Buying Power initiative is designed to maintain that edge, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said here today.

Called Better Buying Power 3.0, the program builds on previous versions, Work told Pentagon reporters.

“Better Buying Power 3.0 really is animated by an urgent concern of ours, and that is what we see to be a steady erosion of our technological superiority that we have relied upon for so long in all of our defense strategies,” he said. “We all think this is one of the biggest issues facing our department and our nation.”

Other countries have been investing heavily in advanced capabilities, DoD’s acquisition chief said, while the U.S. military’s modernization account has been the department’s emergency fund. Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, added that modernization dollars have been raided to pay for readiness in the face of sequestration and flat budgets.

Changing that is key to military dominance, Kendall told reporters. Research and development is what powers new technologies, new capabilities and new capacities, he noted. If research and development is not funded, he added, there are no new systems, and the department cannot make up time lost to funding cuts.

Better Buying Power ties to the Long-Range Research and Development Planning Program, Work said. “We want to identify the weapons, in the systems in the force today, that we can use in more innovative ways, and we’re looking for these promising technologies that we can pull forward,” the deputy secretary said.

The program also calls for closer ties to the private sector, and Work and Kendall said they see the private sector as the seedbed for many of the new technologies that the military will use in the future. These include: robotics, autonomous guidance systems, visualization, big data, biotechnology, micro-miniaturization and advanced computing, among others.

The 3.0 version is a shift in emphasis, not a change in direction, Kendall said. DoD will continue the process of continual improvement in the acquisition field. Kendall said progress in that is not a result of one or two big changes, but the gradual improvement in many different areas.

The 3.0 version will continue the affordability caps for programs. The department will continue to emphasize “should-cost” structures for programs. Competition will continue and the program will encourage effective incentives.

Finally, professionalism is paramount, Kendall said. He noted that DoD needs engineers and scientists, but it also needs acquisition specialists, testers and many others.

Better Buying Power 3.0 calls on the department to be more responsive to the threats facing America, Kendall said. “We cannot assume that when we put a system out, it's going to be fine for the next three or four decades,” he said.

The department must anticipate the next capability, he said, and quickly change programs and systems to counter those threats.

The program also emphasizes cybersecurity. Kendall called on all involved to consider cybersecurity in all aspects of programs.
“It includes the industrial base that supports us and their databases and their information,” he said. “It includes what we hold in government. It includes the logistics support information, the sustainment information, the design information, the tactical information. Everything associated with the product is a potential point of attack. And we are under attack in the cyber world, and we've got to do a better job protecting our things.”

The undersecretary said there may be a Better Buying Power 4.0 sometime in the future, but he is most concerned now with implementing the directions of 3.0.

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @garamoneDoDNews)