Yesterday, Rep. Mac Thorrnbery (R-TX), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, introduced his second acquisition reform bill. The proposal, which will be incorporated into the National Defense Authorization Act, introduces foundational reforms aimed at getting cutting edge equipment to our forces in the field faster. The proposal will help restore agility to America’s military. You can read more about the proposal here.
Sweeping Changes …Guaranteed To Make The Pentagon Squirm: The House Armed Services Committee chairman has fired the opening shot in the upcoming defense policy battle, proposing sweeping changes to the Pentagon’s weapons acquisition and intellectual property rights rules guaranteed to make the Pentagon squirm.
Washington Post 3/16/16
Shorten The Time It Takes For The Military To Start Using A New Weapon: The proposals are aimed at simplifying the convoluted U.S. Defense Department acquisition process, with a big push to fund more experimentation and prototyping of new weapons, while driving to get new technologies into the hands of troops faster. Many big weapons programs are over budget and behind schedule, although Pentagon officials say changes undertaken since 2009 are starting to have a positive impact. The new legislation aims to shorten the time it takes from the start of the design phase of a new program until a military service can start using a new weapon in combat to five-to-six years from around nine year currently, the staff said.
Make Sure Fighters In the Field Can Get their Hands On The Latest Technology: Rep. Mac Thornberry’s (R-Texas) proposal effectively upends the current military procurement process by splitting weapons systems into “platforms” – for instance, a fighter jet, or a submarine – and “components,” such as that jet’s or submarine’s navigation system, sensors, or telecommunication devices. The services would have latitude to upgrade anything that counts as a “component” without having to beg Congress for special permission. The idea, Thornberry said, is to make sure that fighters in the field can more quickly get their hands on the latest technology, and when it comes time to make new purchase orders, help avoid cost-overruns and scheduling delays because much of the new system’s technology will have already been field-tested.
Washington Post 3/16/16
Field Platforms First: Aimed at getting systems developed faster and more cost effectively. It's also intended to help the Pentagon keep pace with changing technology and threats…. The bill would differentiate between so-called platforms and components. The goal is to field platforms first, then allow components to be easily and quickly upgraded as technology develops. Platforms would have systems with open architecture to facilitate upgrades and allow more competition for those upgrades. The military services would be able to use their own funding to foster experimentation and test upgrades faster. Services would have $5 million to spend on a prototype and a $25 million cap for an entire project.
The Hill 3/15/16
Accountability “replace who he needs to replace”: Expanding on the provision of acquisition authorities to the armed services, a centerpiece of the HASC's reform effort last year, the services would be expected to build their own programs. However, the defense secretary is to hold them accountable for missing cost or schedule targets, and “replace who he needs to replace,” Thornberry said.
Defense News 3/16/16
Keep Businesses from Abandoning DoD: Some changes in his annual acquisition reform package are designed to keep businesses from abandoning the Defense Department over clunky processes and intellectual property practices that industry sees as unfair… Thornberry's acquisition reform plan… would allow the government to negotiate over who owns which pieces of the intellectual property on projects jointly funded by government and private funds. Under the current system, all intellectual property rights automatically go to the government in joint funded programs.
Washington Examiner 3/15/16
Improves Transparency: The bill would also aim to improve transparency by establishing an "Acquisition Scorecard" for weapons systems, which would pull from existing reports and documents. At Milestone A, the scorecard would compare the program and independent estimates of cost, schedule, and technical risk with analysis of alternatives. At subsequent milestones, the scorecard would update the program and independent estimates of cost, deadlines and technical risk. If a program did not meet its Milestone A cost and schedule targets, "a light starts blinking," Thornberry said.
The Hill 3/15/15