Better Buying Power 3.0 Stresses Innovation, Affordability

By Amaani Lyle

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The latest update of the Defense Department’s acquisition efficiency initiative stresses innovation and cost-consciousness, the Pentagon’s top acquisition official said here yesterday.

Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, described Better Buying Power 3.0 during the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition.

Noting the April 9 release of the initiative’s implementation directive, Kendall said the department will continue its emphasis on affordable programs, but will enhance that focus by predetermining production costs and the feasibility of seeing new weapons and systems to completion.

Dominant Capabilities, Controlling Life-cycle Costs

The other main mandate in Better Buying Power 3.0 is to achieve dominant capabilities while controlling life-cycle costs, Kendall noted.

“‘Should-cost’ is the idea that our managers are responsible for cost,” he said. “They would then identify opportunities for savings and improve our buying power for value-added military capability.”

Kendall also cited the need for greater agility and responsiveness as threats change, which he said translates into creating a tighter relationship with the intelligence community and a focus on cybersecurity, calling the latter a “pervasive problem.”

“Our program managers need to be thinking about cybersecurity through the life cycles and every aspect of the programs, whether it’s the supply chain, logistics systems, or weapons systems,” the undersecretary said. “All of those interfaces have to be [considered].”

Incentivizing contracts and stressing innovation and productivity have proven effective in government and industry partnerships, Kendall said. “We do want to align profit with performance; if you do a better job for us, you should make more money,” he added. “We like to incentivize contracts where they apply [and] think about the contract we need for the job that we’re doing.”

Kendall also told the audience that Better Buying Power 3.0 calls for greater leverage of commercial technology, acknowledging that the private sector moves faster than the Defense Department’s normal development cycle.

“We can take more risks and speed it up a bit, but it fundamentally takes longer to do a complex new weapons system,” he explained. “We need to think about making revisions on our designs to bring technology in as it matures.”

Reassessing Research and Development Costs

Better Buying Power 3.0 also includes reassessment of the Defense Department’s research and development expenditures, Kendall said. This includes increasing control and reducing bureaucracy in internal lab and independent research and development processes, he added.

The latest version of Better Buying Power also documents the department’s commitment to science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the undersecretary told the audience. “Our economic welfare and national security depend upon the creativity of people in these fields and the products and ideas they bring to the table,” he said.

(Follow Amaani Lyle on Twitter: @LyleDoDNews)