WASHINGTON: If the National Defense Authorization Act really is vetoed by President Obama, the Pentagon’s top acquisition official thinks slicing out the Overseas Contingency Funding and leaving the rest of the bills as is might work.
Frank Kendall, undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, also said that another Continuing Resolution in December covering the all of fiscal 2016 would probably mean serious cuts to procurement, because the Pentagon would first protect operations and readiness money.
Kendall, speaking at an event put on by DefenseOne, said this may mean interrupting multi-year contracts, which could cost both contractors and the military substantial amounts. He wouldn’t name them, but Kendall said that he’s drawn up a list of programs they might need to delay or push out “until we have more budget certainty.”
Congress is, of course, a right mess now. House Republicans are in ferment as the more rational members of their party, who oppose shutting down the government, are confronted by the people who drove out House Speaker John Boehner. Until the speakership is determined, there won’t be any hints, let alone clarity, about what the House will do on spending. Once the speaker is chosen, we will then face the battle between the so-called fiscal hawks and the other elements. They will have to decide whether to stall a spending bill, pass one, or be incredibly irresponsible and settle on a Continuing Resolution.
The good news is that the Senate is much less dominated by the irrational elements of the party and so is less likely to accept a shutdown. But the House has to vote on a spending bill so…
Kendall, who opposed Sen. John McCain’s acquisition reforms that gave increased power to the service chiefs, said today that he welcomed all efforts to increase the chiefs involvement in requirements because that helps control costs from the beginning of a program. He and the three service acquisition executives, — Heidi Shyu of the Army, Sean Stackley of the Navy Department, and Bill LaPlante of the Air Force — stressed how important it was to embed the changes they have striven to make over the last few years: configuration steering boards, should-cost pricing, greater control of requirements throughout a program’s development and greatly improved training for the acquisition professionals who make the system work. They — probably — have one year left to do it.