Thoughts on Acquisition Reform (Circa 2016)
I was recently asked to review an article (http://insidedefense.com/insider/insider-daily-digest-49) about Congressional Government Reform efforts. Specifically, his question was “…is this a serious initiative or just the ‘flavor of the month’ for Congress during an election season?”
I informed him that Congress (read as the SASC and HASC) is dead serious about Government Reform. This can be observed by comments and engagements by SASC Chairman McCain (R-AZ) and HASC Chairman Thornberry (R-TX). A quick google search on either of their names and “reform” will demonstrate they are not only speaking about government reform but they are hosting engagements on the topic and enacting legislation targeted on reforming the government. What started as a focus on acquisition reform, has morphed to a “whole of government reform” effort titled Goldwaters Nichols reform.
All this talk hints at a number of current initiatives (ie. Acq reform, FIAR/government accountability, the delegation of acquisition authority to military Service Chiefs—and away from OSD AT&L, etc.).
To his question of how serious is this…its serious, dead serious. Both Chambers are very serious about reform and given the upcoming 2016 elections…many expect an increased focus and rhetoric.
The fiscal realities (i.e. sequestration and its impact on the fiscal environment) make it critical that the USG finds better and more efficient ways of doing business. The leaders of the HASC/SASC are dead serious about their roles in defending this country. They understand the realities of the Budget Control Act (BCA) which forces the USG to do more with less.
In an effort to identify efficiencies in the largest bureaucratic institution in the world (ie DoD), Congressional leaders are chomping at the bit to find efficiencies. One could expect an introspective look into any organization to reveal opportunities to save 10% – 15%—the DoD is no different and in the Defense Department 10 to 15% savings equates to a real money.
I recommended that he view this initiative as very serious and be prepared for all programs to face the scrutiny of a hard congressional look. Even if this exact exercise fizzles out, one can be sure that future/related exercises will be forth coming…either way, its prudent that one be prepared to face Congressional scrutiny. The USG, and its supporting contractors, must think thru how they’d respond to Congressional oversight and what data they’d provide to defend your program(s). They must be ready to respond with facts and not rhetoric—in a timely fashion (that’s why stakeholders must think thru this in advance). I can’t understate the point that numbers, not rhetoric, must be sound and defendable—the USG has been caught providing impercise numbers and that only stands to draw additional scrutiny.