Moving Forward

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Frank Kendall, The Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics

Frank Kendall

I wanted to take this opportunity, with the general election now behind us, to give Defense AT&L magazine readers a sense of what we can expect during the next few years. First of all, we can expect to be challenged. Budgets are shrinking and threats to our national security are not. The department has articulated a sound strategy, and, unless there are major budget reductions to come and we are forced to make revisions, we will be charged with supporting that strategy through effective acquisition of products and services across the full spectrum of Defense Department needs. We must do everything we can to execute effectively—to extract full value from the money with which we are entrusted. Over the next several years, I will do everything I can to help you perform that challenging duty.

When I replaced Dr. Ashton Carter in an acting capacity over a year ago, I articulated six priorities: support ongoing operations, achieve affordable programs, improve efficiency, strengthen the industrial base, strengthen the acquisition workforce, and protect the future. You can expect those priorities to remain in place.

I recently introduced the “for comment” version of Better Buying Power (BBP) 2.0. BBP 2.0 is the next step in a process of continuous improvement. Like BBP 1.0, it is not intended to be a “school solution” or a checklist of ideas for you to unthinkingly “check off.” BBP 2.0 is consistent with my goals and priorities, and it is designed in large part to drive critical thought in the daily execution of our work. BBP 2.0 will help improve our effectiveness in the tradecraft of acquisition. There is no single “schoolbook” answer in this business, and as we move forward on BBP 2.0 over the next year or two, we will learn from our joint experiences and make adjustments as necessary. We will identify and share new best practices, and we will reject or modify the ideas that turn out to be impractical or ineffective. You can expect future versions of BBP as together we learn about and discover what works and what doesn’t.

Increasingly, we will measure our own performance and try to learn from those who are most successful at acquiring products and services for our warfighters. This winter I will publish the first edition of what I intend to be an annual AT&L publication on “The Performance of the Defense Acquisition System.” For the first time in my experience, we will begin to measure the trends in our own performance and to understand, through data and analysis, the root causes of superior performance. You can expect that this report will be updated annually and that it will contain increasingly sophisticated assessments of our ability to execute programs of various types, of the productivity of Department of Defense institutions, and of the firms in the defense industrial base.

undersecretary-remarks-image-1This winter, hopefully before this article goes to press, I will issue the coordination draft of the new DoDI 5000.02. This draft will update 5000.02 to be consistent with current law. It also will provide a range of models for structuring programs, and it will emphasize the need to tailor our acquisition approaches to the natural work flow and decision points for the product being developed and fielded. I will expect the principles embodied in the new 5000.02 to be used immediately while the document goes through the standard review cycle.
The process of rewriting DoDI 5000.02 has made clear to me that over the years an increasingly complex web of statutory direction has significantly complicated the lives of our key leaders, particularly our program managers. As a result, I have asked my chief of staff, Andrew Hunter, to form a team with other stakeholders, working with interested parties from Congress, to prepare a legislative proposal that would provide a single coherent and simplified body of law to guide the defense acquisition system. The goal is to have this completed and submitted to Congress within one year.

Finally, you can expect my continued support and dedication to giving you all of the tools you need to be effective. You, the total acquisition workforce—and I include in this grouping all of you who are involved in technology development, logistics, and sustainment activities of all types, as well as those working in the traditional product development and production activities—are the key to our success.

The next few years are not going to be easy. I expect that the Department will be stretched significantly as we attempt to retain the force structure needed to execute our national security strategy while simultaneously maintaining readiness, sustaining infrastructure, recapitalizing or modernizing aging equipment, introducing innovative technologies, preserving our industrial base, and ensuring the continuing technological superiority that our forces have every right to expect. Our success depends on your ability to execute the overall AT&L mission: supporting the warfighter and protecting the taxpayer. I look forward to meeting this challenge with you.

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