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U.S. lawmaker to kick off Pentagon acquisition reform bid

Published by Business Insider on Sun, 22 Mar 2015

By Andrea ShalalWASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee plans to introduce legislation on Wednesday as part of a six-year drive aimed at speeding up and improving the way the Pentagon buys arms at a time of rapid gains in technology by Russia and China.Representative Mac Thornberry, a Texas Republican, hopes to spark debate about the initiative and then wrap it into the annual National Defense Authorization Act, a broader bill that sets policy for the Defense Department each year, committee officials told reporters.Thornberry and the committee drafted the legislation after more than a year of examining billions of dollars in cost overruns, schedule delays and other problems that have plagued weapons programs for years.Committee officials said they considered over 1,000 specific proposals and held six congressional hearings, and 25 meetings with acquisition officials, weapons makers and outside exports.The legislation includes six measures proposed by Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall, who has been looking to reduce the burden posed by thousands of pages of overlapping federal acquisition rules and other requirements.Committee officials said the new acquisition reform effort could succeed where countless others have failed given mounting concerns about the eroding U.S. technological edge, budget pressures and the number of key players with acquisition expertise - including Defense Secretary Ash Carter.Lockheed Martin Corp, Boeing Co and other arms makers have long urged the Pentagon to streamline the current cumbersome and bureaucratic acquisition process."More than being monetarily wasteful, dysfunction in the acquisition process is sapping America's technological edge and robbing our military of agility in the face of multiplying threats," the committee said in a statement about the bill.The legislation aims to make the Defense Department's acquisition system more proactive, agile, transparent and innovative, committee officials said, noting that further measures would be proposed in each of the coming six years.It would consolidate requirements for new arms programs and give program managers more flexibility in structuring contracts, instead of reflexively opting for "lowest price, technically acceptable" contracts and other forms backed in earlier reforms.The bill also aims to help resolve a standoff between government and industry over which items may be treated as "commercial" products, which require less disclosure of pricing data. Companies argue that current Pentagon rules discourage private investment in certain products.The bill also seeks to incentivize companies to lower costs by giving them a share of any savings generated.(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Tom Brown)Join the conversation about this story
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