Army Secretary Mark T. Esper, Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer and Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson outlined how the Defense Department is working to meet its mission more efficiently.
The services have had a cumbersome acquisition process that for many decades delayed much-needed modernization programs and caused costs to balloon.
As part of the fiscal year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress established the Section 809 Panel to address acquisition reform.
Congress granted new authorities to the services that resulted in such things as removing unnecessary layers in the steps contracting officers and program managers must take and removing unnecessary or redundant reporting requirements.
The service secretaries all agreed that the new authorities resulted in streamlining programs and cost savings. As to additional new authorities needed, all three said they will need some time to see what, if anything, still needs to be done.
When the services use these authorities, it enhances competition and gets more innovative companies involved in providing services and equipment to the military -- and it also saves money, Wilson said, citing an example. The Air Force had four major procurements in the last quarter of last year: a new trainer, a new GPS satellite, a replacement helicopter and a contract for satellite rocket launch services. Those procurements were very competitive and $17 billion over those four procurements was saved as a result of new authorities.