Tag Archives: Frank Kendall

Adventures in Defense Acquisition


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By Frank Kendall

frank-kendall-headshotFor what is likely to be my last communication to the acquisition workforce as Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (USD[AT&L]), I thought I would share with you a few stories, all true, from my 45 or so years working in various aspects of defense acquisition, either in uniform, as a civil servant, in industry, or as an appointee. I’ve put them more or less in chronological order, starting with an experience I had while serving in Europe during the height of the Cold War. There has certainly been a lot of water under the bridge since then, and a lot has changed, but the things I’ve learned along the way are in many cases timeless. Continue reading

When and When Not to Accelerate Acquisitions


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By Frank Kendall

frank-kendall-headshotWhy don’t we do all our acquisition programs faster? What keeps us from having all acquisition programs be “rapid” acquisitions? The short answer is that, if we choose to, we can trade quality for time.
Sometimes that is smart, and
sometimes it isn’t.

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Manufacturing Innovation and Technological Superiority


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Frank Kendall

At the end of the Cold War, I was serving as the Deputy Director of Defense Research and Engineering for Tactical Warfare Programs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). For years I had studied the intelligence reports on Soviet weapon systems and worked on ways the United States could achieve or maintain a military advantage over those systems. We knew the Russians had some of the best scientists and engineers in the world working on their designs. They also had aggressive modernization cycles in areas they considered important; their multiple competing design bureaus turned out new designs for armored vehicles, missiles and tactical aircraft on a predictable schedule at intervals of about 5 years.

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Improving Acquisition From Within Suggestions From Our PEOs


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By: Frank Kendall

kendall-200This year I asked all of our Program Executive Officers (PEOs) to provide short assessments and recommendations to me directly. The result, as it was for the Program Manager Assessments I’ve received for the last 2 years, has been a treasure trove of observations and recommendations covering a wide range of topics. I thought it would be useful and insightful for the entire workforce to see some of these professional, and very frank, comments. I’ve removed most inputs that were about specific programs and edited lightly to make some of the inputs less Service specific. Arranged alphabetically by topic, and presented without comment, here is a sampling of the topics on our senior line managers’ minds as they confront the many challenges we face.

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Real Acquisition Reform (or Improvement) Must Come From Within


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Frank Kendall

Since I returned to government 6 years ago, I have been working with the acquisition workforce and defense industry to improve defense acquisition performance. There is a lot of evidence that we are moving in the right direction. We have also effectively partnered with Congress on some initiatives, and we are in the midst of a new cycle of congressionally led efforts to improve defense acquisition—as in other cases with the label of “acquisition reform.”

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Our Theme for 2016—Sustaining Momentum


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Author: Frank Kendall

It’s hardly a secret that we are headed toward a change in administration next year. I’ve been through these transitions several times, as have most acquisition professionals. During my previous experience in the Pentagon organization of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, I worked for a total of eight Under Secretaries in as many years, and I went through one same-party and one other-party administration change.

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Better Buying Power Principles – What Are They?


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

kendall-200Inevitably, whenever any senior leader embarks on a set of initiatives intended to improve an organization’s performance and labels that set of initiatives, he or she can expect one reaction for certain. That reaction is what I would describe as genuflecting in the direction of the title of the initiative by various stakeholders who are trying to show the leader that they are aligned with his or her intent.

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Innovation in the Defense Acquisition Enterprise


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

kendall-200Innovation has become a very popular word lately. Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced the Defense Innovation Initiative about a year ago. At about the same time, the draft Better Buying Power 3.0 set of initiatives, focusing on technical excellence and innovation, were published for comment. Deputy Defense Secretary Robert O. Work has led the effort to develop an innovative “Third Offset Strategy.” Most recently, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced the opening of the Defense Innovation Unit—Experimental, or DIU-X, in California’s Silicon Valley. President Obama has led the administration’s successful opening of several Manufacturing Innovation Institutes, most of which are sponsored by the Department of Defense (DoD). And more institutes are on the way.

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DoD Use of Commercial Acquisition Practices—When They Apply and When They Do Not


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

kendall-200The Department of Defense (DoD) generally buys major weapon systems through the defense acquisition system, a process that is highly tailorable but still built around the assumption that the DoD will compensate suppliers for product development, contract through Defense Federal Acquisition Regulations and be heavily involved in all aspects of the product life cycle. A number of organizations—including the Defense Business Board, some think tanks and some in Congress—have encouraged or recommended greater use of commercial practices. There are indeed times when using more commercial practices makes sense, and we should be alert to those opportunities—in any aspect of defense procurement.

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Kendall: Workforce Development Needed to Sustain Tech Superiority

DOD NEWS, DEFENSE MEDIA ACTIVITY (APRIL 1, 2015)

Claudette Roulo

NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md.—The Defense Department’s top acquisition official yesterday made his third visit to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, home to U.S. Navy Naval Air Systems Command, or NAVAIR.

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