Recommendations for DoD acquisition reform focus on 7 areas

The Defense Department added its voice to a growing list of associations and lawmakers with ideas on how to improve the military’s acquisition process.

DoD’s ideas center less on what Congress can do and more on what it shouldn’t do.

Frank Kendall, the undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, sent a letter to Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) back in June detailing seven areas where he thinks DoD needs help to improve acquisition outcomes.

For the first time publicly today at the AFCEA Acquisition Modernization conference in Washington, Kendall highlighted his seven recommendations.

Kendall said the biggest thing Congress could do is end the threat of sequestration in 2016 and beyond.

“2013 was a nightmare year. We actually implemented sequestration well into the year. We bought ourselves a little time with the deal that got us through 2014 and presumably through 2015. It’s coming right back in 2016,” he said. “We are working on the budget right now. The services are finalizing their [budget plans], and we will go through an exercise this fall where we will have to look at what the President will submit and something that is compliant with sequestration to see what the damage is. The damage is huge.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/394/3676550/Kendall-shapes-DoD-acquisition-reforms-around-7-areas-

Explaining the federal budget paralysis

Budget uncertainty is the new norm in the federal sector. With the sequester and government shutdown in recent memory, it has reached the point where the possibility of the next fiscal year starting with a Continuing Resolution of a few months is a relief. Two key questions: Why is this happening in Congress and will the uncertainty ever end?

The most common explanation is to blame a political party or person. This is incomplete. Federal sector managers, executives, and contractors can benefit from looking deeper into Congress and its processes. A better understanding of the dynamics can even improve planning by setting realistic expectations for Congress.

The reality is the federal discretionary budget, which funds the federal government, has become the central battleground for the hyper-partisan warfare in Congress today.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20140724/BLG05/307240016/Explaining-budget-paralysis

Pentagon contracts slid 29% in May

Pentagon contracts fell 29 percent in May from a year earlier, the fifth drop in the past six months, in part driven by automatic U.S. budget cuts.

The Defense Department announced contracts with a maximum value of $13.7 billion last month, down from $19.4 billion in May 2013, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. United Technologies Corp. (UTX) won the only award topping $1 billion, for presidential helicopters.

“There will be fits and starts, but the general trend line will continue to fall,” said Mackenzie Eaglen, a defense analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington-based policy group. “The steepness of that grade is the only question.”

May’s prime, or direct, contracts were less than half the $35 billion awarded a month earlier. April was the only month since December in which contracts have risen on a year-to-year basis. That gain was propelled by a $17.8 billion Navy contract for 10 Virginia-class submarines.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-06-11/pentagon-contracts-slid-29-in-may.html

Defense contractors fight for their slice

Defense contractors are going back to war to protect their slice of a shrinking Pentagon budget.

Gone are the days of unity when giants like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman banded together in 2012 to fight automatic defense cuts in a campaign called Second to None. Now, with another round of sequestration ahead and an uncertain post-war era looming, contractors are back to skirmishing with one another over every last scrap of the defense budget.

Lockheed backers are publicly sniping at Boeing over the Pentagon’s potential purchase of Navy EA-18G Growler aircraft, while Boeing advocates are dissing Lockheed’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Lockheed also wants to save the iconic U-2 spy plane, while Boeing hopes to stop the mothballing of the A-10 attack plane — both are on the chopping block.

The latest battles among the defense giants signal a shifting landscape for contractors, in which new programs are far from guaranteed, legacy programs are no longer sacred cows and defense hawks are getting beaten by budget hawks. It’s also a sign that the most powerful government contractors in Washington — pejoratively dubbed “Beltway Bandits” back in the 1980s — are losing some of their sway in a city where they’ve practically had a license to print money in recent years.

What hasn’t changed are the market demands: Defense contractors are still under pressure to keep profits high even as sales decline, so they are slashing personnel and cutting their Washington lobbying shops. In the first quarter of this year, lobbying spending by a dozen of the largest defense contractors hit its lowest level since the first quarter of 2011.

The infighting could get worse. This is the first year that the Pentagon has proposed a budget that adheres to the spending caps of the 2011 Budget Control Act and last December’s budget deal, which gave the Pentagon $9 billion in relief from the sequester in fiscal 2015.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/04/defense-contractors-budget-funding-106077.html

Pentagon deputy: Defense contracting choices will only get tougher

Sequestration is forcing the Defense Department to “literally build two budgets” and, if the automatic cuts are continued, will damage the quality of U.S. weapons systems and deter innovation, a top Pentagon acquisition official said last Wednesday (Apr. 23, 2014).

Elana Broitman, deputy assistant Defense secretary for manufacturing and industrial base policy, said, “The sequester cuts are tied to no long-term plan, and, though it’s a truism in the marketplace, we are concerned about [having] enough competition with fewer entities around to fund innovation.”

Broitman spoke at a panel discussion at Arlington, Va.,’s Artisphere organized by Bloomberg Government, whose newly released annual study of the 200 top federal contractors noted that Defense Department contract spending is down by 15 percent. “We used to trim things we don’t need,” Broitman said, “now we’re choosing between two good things.” She also cited risks if the U.S. government does not invest in the industrial base and research and development, saying. , “We can no longer guarantee for adversaries and allies that our products are the best.”

A former aide to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Broitman also expressed regret that Congress has rejected the Obama administration’s request for another round of the Base Closing and Realignment Commission. “There’s only so many costs we can swallow if we want our troops well trained,” she said. “We can’t afford every installation where they may be housed.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2014/04/pentagon-deputy-defense-contracting-choices-will-only-get-tougher/83155/

7 agencies where contract spending sped up despite the sequester

Overall, the federal government’s spending on contracts was down 11 percent last year, Bloomberg reported April 22, 2014.

The sequester, other budget cuts, and the drawdown in Iraq and Afghanistan took a toll on spending at 12 of 19 major agencies, with Defense Department spending down nearly 15 percent  over fiscal 2012 and business with the U.S. Agency for International Development down 17 percent.

But seven departments managed to buck the general downward trend. They are:

1)      Homeland Security (2.1 percent increase over fiscal 2012)

2)      Health and Human Services (4.6 percent increase)

3)      Veterans Affairs (5.3 percent increase)

4)      Justice (7 percent increase)

5)      Housing and Urban Development (9.5 percent increase)

6)      Treasury (16.4 percent increase)

7)      Education (27 percent increase)

This article may be found at:  http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2014/04/7-agencies-where-contract-spending-sped-despite-sequester/82987

DoD plots third chapter in Better Buying Power initiative

Nothing is on paper yet, but the Defense Department says it is in the very early stages of creating a “3.0″ version of its ongoing Better Buying Power initiative.

The newest edition will focus on making sure the military doesn’t fall behind in technological superiority.

Frank Kendall, the undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, said the next edition of the Pentagon’s effort to improve its acquisition system will zero in on an issue that he has become increasingly worried about as sequestration-level budgets take a toll on DoD’s investments in research and development.

While he emphasized that Better Buying Power 3.0 still is in the idea stage, he said it will revolve around the notion that DoD can’t afford to put technology advances on hold just because research dollars are shrinking.

“The first iteration was about the rules. The second one was about creating tools to help people think and do a better job of setting up business deals and executing them. The third is probably going to be about innovation and how we move things more rapidly and more effectively into the hands of warfighters,” he said Tuesday (Apr. 8, 2014) at the 15th annual Science and Engineering Technology Conference sponsored by the National Defense Industrial Association in College Park, Md.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/65/3599360/DoD-plots-third-chapter-in-Better-Buying-Power-initiative- 

Air Force bets $41 billion on sequestration

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James has placed a $41 billion bet that Congress will ease off on the mandatory spending cuts in the sequester process and also go along with a White House proposal to raise taxes.

“We will be working hard to convince Congress that there’s too much risk” to the Air Force and the nation if the $41 billion in additional funding is rejected, James said last week at a defense issues forum.

In offering the Pentagon’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget plan last week, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel also put forward a five-year projection calling on Congress to boost military spending by $115 billion through sequester relief.

Hagel is counting on an additional $26 billion for defense from the total $56 billion Growth and Opportunity Fund that President Obama plans to outline Tuesday in the White House budget plan.

The $56 billion for the Fund would come from a combination of tax increases and offset spending, White House officials.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.dodbuzz.com/2014/03/03/air-force-bets-41-billion-on-sequestration/ 

Here are the predicted winners and losers in the FY15 budget

While its passage in Congress is far from guaranteed, the Pentagon’s budget request for fiscal 2015 has some clear winners and losers on the weapons-acquisition front.

The Defense Department on March 4 will request its spending plan for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. The base budget, excluding war funding, will total $496 billion, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said during a press conference Monday afternoon (Feb. 24, 2014) at the Pentagon.

Hagel spent a portion of the hour-long briefing discussing the department’s modernization plans.

To read about the winners and losers in the FY15 budget, keep reading this article at: http://www.dodbuzz.com/2014/02/24/winners-and-losers-in-the-2015-budget

 

Pentagon to trim plans for F-35 jet order

The Pentagon will request 34 Lockheed Martin F-35 jets in its budget for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1, eight fewer than previously planned, according to officials.

The fiscal 2015 request, to be released March 4, will include funds to buy 26 of the Air Force’s model, six of the Marine Corps’ short-takeoff and vertical-
landing jets and two of the Navy’s version for aircraft carriers, according to officials familiar with the plans, who asked not to be identified because the budget hasn’t been made public.

Even with the decrease from past plans, the defense budget reflects pledges by officials to do all they could to insulate the costliest U.S. weapons program from federal budget cuts. Marillyn Hewson, chairman and chief executive of Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed, predicted in a Feb. 10 interview that the company’s F-35 program is “going to continue to grow and become a larger part of our portfolio.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/pentagon-to-trim-plans-for-f-35-jet-order/2014/02/16/2310f400-974c-11e3-8461-8a24c7bf0653_story.html