In remarks at the Center for Strategic & International Studies last week, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) outlined a framework for defense acquisition reform focused on ensuring our military has the agility and the technological edge it needs to respond to the evolving security threats we face.  Drawing from several hearings and extensive stakeholder input, Chairman Thornberry’s proposals target four key areas for reform.  Here’s more from his remarks:

  • People: “We would remove some of the obstacles that make it more difficult for top military talent to serve in acquisition and make permanent the Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Fund to help it be used more effectively. We would also require training on the commercial market including commercial market research to help close the gap between government and industry. And we require specific ethics training for acquisition.”
  • Acquisition Strategy: “We would require every program start out with an acquisition strategy. It has to be in writing, and it has to be done up front then updated as needed. This strategy would consolidate at least six other requirements and must include the most appropriate type of contract for that acquisition.”
  • Streamline the Chain of Command: “A number of requirements on Milestone A and B would move from legal certifications to simple decisions. … The draft will raise the dollar thresholds on a number of authorities, such as simplified acquisition, to make it easier for service chiefs, base commanders, and others to get things done. And we make clear that the role of the testing community is to test and advise, not to decide.”
  • Thin Out Regulations & Paperwork: “In fact there will be dozens of reporting requirements that would be eliminated.”

“The legislation is the product of lengthy committee study of the Pentagon acquisition system, which officials and lawmakers of both parties agree too often churns out weapons far over budget and behind schedule — or leads the services to cancel them,” Defense News reports.  Responding to the challenges of a constrained fiscal environment, and recognizing the need to make every taxpayer dollar count, Thornberry’s proposal “seeks to consolidate complicated processes and train an acquisition workforce that can be held more accountable,” according to the Washington Times.  “These factors—more threats and tighter budgets—make it more important than ever that we squeeze greater value out of existing defense spending,” says Concerned Veterans for America CEO Pete Hegseth, calling the measure “a very important step in the right direction.”

“The broken acquisition system is contributing to the loss of our military’s technological edge. I hope that by streamlining the process, improving accountability, and eliminating outdated regulations, we can start to get some of that edge back,” says Thornberry. “Ultimately, this acquisition reform must make the system more proactive, agile, transparent, and innovative.”

Learn more about the Agile Acquisition to Retain Technological Edge Act (H.R. 1597) here, and follow the House Armed Services Committee on Facebook and Twitter for more updates.