Tag Archives: Under Secretary Remarks

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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Program Manager Assessments: Professionalism Personified


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

A few months ago, I decided to ask all of our Acquisition Category I and Major Automated Information System (MAIS)  program managers (PMs) to provide me with a one- to three-page assessment of the state of their programs. At the time, this was an experiment. From the feedback I received, most PMs were delighted to have this opportunity. I have incorporated these assessments into Better Buying Power (BBP) 3.0 as an activity that will continue on an annual basis. The assessments are intended to strengthen the role of the acquisition chain of command. The assessments are simultaneously sent to me, the Service or Component acquisition executive, and the program executive officer. It was, however, an experiment that seemed to make a lot of people nervous.

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Tying Profit to Performance: A Valuable Tool, But Use With Good Judgment


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

One thing I enjoyed about working in industry was that everyone in the private sector understood the definition of success: It was profit. If something made a profit for a business, it was good. If something did not make a profit for a business, then it was not good. Profit is the fundamental reason that businesses exist: to make money for their owners or shareholders. Without profit, businesses die.

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Getting “Best Value” for the Warfighter and the Taxpayer


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

We use the phrase “best value” fairly often, usually to describe the type of source-selection process or evaluation criteria we will use in a competitive acquisition. Under the Better Buying Power initiatives, we have emphasized using a more monetized and less subjective definition of best value. As a way to spur innovation, we also have emphasized communicating the “value function” to the offerors so they can bid more intelligently.

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Risk and Risk Mitigation—Don’t Be a Spectator


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

As I have watched programs come through for Milestone Decisions and other reviews, I have gained the impression that our processes for risk management may have focused too much on the process and not enough on the substance of identifying and controlling risk. I think I may be seeing risk identification—categorization in the “risk matrix” showing likelihood and consequence and with risk burn-down schedules tied to program events. From my perspective, this by itself isn’t risk management; it is risk watching. We need to do what we can to manage and control risk, not just observe it.

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Technological Superiority and Better Buying Power 3.0


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

Frank KendallEach morning I start my day with a half hour or more devoted to reading the latest intelligence.

I’ve been doing this for about four-and-a-half years now. It took me only a few weeks from the time I came back into government in March 2010 to realize that we had a serious problem. Some of the countries that might be future adversaries, (or that could at least be counted on to sell their weapons to countries that are our adversaries) were clearly developing sophisticated weapons designed to defeat the United States’ power-projection forces. Even if war with the United States were unlikely or unintended, it was quite obvious to me that the foreign investments I saw in military modernization had the objective of enabling the countries concerned to deter regional intervention by the American military.

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Ethics and Acquisition Professionalism: It Is All About Trust


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

One of my predecessors as Under Secretary for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, and my former boss, John Bette, once commented to me, “The most valuable thing any one of us has is our credibility; once credibility is gone, it can never be recovered.” Credibility, or our capacity to have other people trust what we say, is essential to any successful acquisition professional.

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