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FCW : June 15, 2014
Defense 24 June 15, 2014 FCW.COM resistant to change, and you have technology that changes so quickly. And so trying to bridge that gap for a chief information of cer or from an acquisition standpoint is really hard. I don t think we should underesti- mate how dif cult that is. Do you think the CIO is suf ciently empowered to drive prudent tech- nology policy at the Pentagon? I ve asked [Takai] that a time or two at hearings that we ve had. I don t know if you could ever have a CIO suf ciently empowered to overcome the resistance that he or she will face. It is one of the issues that maybe we will take a look at. Are there some other speci c authorities, or especial- ly waiver authorities, that make sense for somebody in that position? I don t know the answer, but any- one in that position is going to take on bigger challenges than you could ever give them power to overcome completely. So you have to have the support of the [DOD] secretary and the deputy secretary. You have to have that muscle behind you. In an April 30 Senate Armed Serv- ices Committee hearing, Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) oated the idea of holding IT contracts to the same cost safeguards as those for weap- ons systems. Do you support such a policy? I think [it is] maybe something we want to explore a little more. That doesn t mean it is a good idea, auto- matically, for a variety of reasons. But we ought to think about...that principle of once an acquisition goes beyond certain bounds, there s a red ag that goes up and says, "Pay more attention to me," which is basically what [the Nunn-McCurdy Amend- ment] does. Maybe there s a version that should be considered for IT. But can you do it in a dynamic way given all the complexities of that? That s what I don t know for sure. How important is improving com- munication between DOD con- tracting of cers and the defense industry to your goals for acquisi- tion reform? Would you support an idea recently raised by Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisi- tion Katrina McFarland in which DOD shares potential procurement requirements with industry even if those draft requirements never take effect? One of the things that I hear over and over is that the constraints put upon communication between the Pentagon and industry add to time, add to cost and prevent the Penta- gon from acquiring some things that it could acquire that may meet the need better than the requirements it comes up with. So I do think we ve gone too far in making it dif cult for that sort of communication with industry to take place. I don t know about [McFarland s] particular suggestion, but I ve heard [about the communication issue] from enough different industries and across the board to believe that that is a problem. It may be partly the regulations or the requirements that the Pentagon puts on itself, and part of it may be cultural: "We re going to stay so far back from that line that we re not going to talk to you no matter what." So it is one of the areas that we re looking at because I do think we can do better. Would you rather focus on a hand- ful of potentially wasteful programs or try to change the underlying principles of acquisition? I think the key is looking...to the incentives that exist in the system, both on the side of government and on the side of industry. So there s no new oversight of ce, no new regu- lation, no elimination of regulation that s really going to get at the heart of the matter if the incentives for the program manager or for industry are going to stay the way they are. That, to me, is really the key. One of the things we did early on is to get 12 or 15 [federal contract] managers anonymously around the table just to talk about the pressures they feel. What are they rewarded for? What are they punished for? Why do they make the decisions they do? We re going to do more of that. We are pursuing similar efforts... with industry program managers just to understand that side of the fence as well. I think that s really the key to success --- to understand those incentives and make adjust- ments --- because it is [federal contract managers ] day-to-day deci- sions that matter much more than whatever laws we pass or what reg- ulations [Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and To me, it's fairly simple. Even if sequestration, all that stuff, goes away, we're looking at relatively at defense budgets.
June 30, 2014
July 15, 2014