Ashton Carter, the Pentagon’s acquisition boss, made news today by announcing plans for a detailed “soup to nuts” review of defense spending. Unless you’ve been living in a cave, this shouldn’t be much of a surprise. What is somewhat newsworthy is the way in which the plans were laid out: an invitation only meeting with officials from the major industry players. From Defense News:
“Sources said the acquisition executive told industry brass the review will examine competition for contracts; requirements; specific fees; how to ensure strong small-business participation in the DoD acquisition process; the differences between planning for what programs should and most likely will cost; how to bolster the acquisition work force; and affordability.” (Read the Full Article here)
This announcement tracks pretty well with Secretary Gates’ plans to keep Defense budget growth to 1% per year over the next few years by moving costs from “tail to tooth”. It’s a good sign that the administration is keeping industry at the table, and that (at least for now), industry is playing along. From the perspective of PNDC, it’s good to see some language about small business participation, but I’m still deeply suspicious of phrases like that. I’ve spent a little time in the rarified world of big dollar acquisition, and those folks haven’t got the foggiest clue about how industry actually works at the ground level. Still… platitudes are better than nothing, so we’ll take it.