Wednesday, May 6, 2009

House Armed Services Committee: Opening Statement of Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) Hearing on Acquisition Reform with Deputy Secretary of Defense Bill Lynn

House Armed Services Committee: Opening Statement of Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) Hearing on Acquisition Reform with Deputy Secretary of Defense Bill Lynn

Ike Skelton, Chairman
For Immediate Release: May 6, 2009

Washington, DC – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) delivered the following opening statement during today’s hearing on Acquisition Reform with Deputy Secretary of Defense Bill Lynn:

“Ladies and Gentleman, welcome to today’s hearing on The Department of Defense at High Risk: The Recommendations of the Chief Management Officer on Acquisition Reform and Related High Risk Areas. I should note up front that this hearing is a follow-up to our hearing on March 12 with GAO about their 2009 High Risk Update and helps satisfy the committee’s oversight obligations under the Tanner resolution.

“Our witness is Deputy Secretary of Defense Bill Lynn who also has the distinction of being the Department’s Chief Management Officer, a responsibility given to him largely as a result of GAO’s recommendations. He has with him Mr. Shay Assad, Acting Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology and Ms. Beth McGrath, Assistant Deputy Chief Management Officer. They will assist Secretary Lynn in answering our questions, but will not present statements.

“The focus of today’s hearing is narrower than our earlier hearing with GAO. We will focus today on acquisition reform. However, Secretary Lynn, the committee expects that you will provide us with a full response to the findings and recommendations of GAO in its 2009 High Risk Update for the record. The committee is committed to addressing all of the Department’s High Risk Areas and we will remain focused on all of these issues, not just this year but beyond, until we are able to reduce the risk in these areas to manageable levels. I should also note that as the budget is not yet released, Secretary Lynn will not be addressing budget issues in his testimony today.

“The focus on acquisition reform in today’s hearing is more than timely. Tomorrow, the committee will mark-up H.R. 2101, the Weapons Acquisition System Reform Through Enhancing Technical Knowledge and Oversight Act of 2009. Ranking Member McHugh and I, along with our partners, Rob Andrews and Mike Conaway, the leaders of our Panel on Defense Acquisition Reform, introduced the WASTE TKO Act to match the good work of our colleagues in the Senate, Senators Levin and McCain. We believe our bill will help substantially improve the oversight of acquisition of major weapon systems.

“H.R. 2101 introduces three significant new concepts. Number one, we require the Secretary of Defense to designate an official as the Department’s principal expert on performance assessment, who will give us unbiased assessments of acquisition programs. Number two, we create an intensive care unit for sick programs. Programs that are not meeting the standards for system development or that have had critical Nunn-McCurdy breaches will get additional scrutiny. Number three, we require the Department to set up a system to track the cost growth and schedule changes that happen prior to milestone B. It is before milestone B when 75% of a program’s costs are actually determined.

“We will mark-up this legislation in committee tomorrow with a goal of moving it through the House as a stand-alone measure and completing conference with the Senate on it by Memorial Day. However, the committee, and especially our Panel on Defense Acquisition Reform, will continue to work on acquisition reform, this year and next, on the 80% of acquisition which lies outside the scope of H.R. 2101 and its Senate counterpart. We look forward, Secretary Lynn, to your testimony on the full range of acquisition issues today. Now let me turn to my good friend and colleague, John McHugh.”


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