Thursday, April 30, 2009

House Armed Services Committee: Opening Statement of Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) Hearing on the Reform of Major Weapon Systems Acquisition

House Armed Services Committee: Opening Statement of Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) Hearing on the Reform of Major Weapon Systems Acquisition

Ike Skelton, Chairman
For Immediate Release: April 30, 2009

Washington, DC – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) delivered the following opening statement during today’s hearing on the Reform of Major Weapon Systems Acquisition:

“Welcome to today’s hearing on reform of major weapon systems acquisition and related legislative proposals. Our witnesses have a rare combination of policy experience and technical expertise. Rudy deLeon, Senior Vice President for National Security at the Center for American Progress, former Deputy Secretary of Defense, and most importantly, former staff director of this committee; Dr. David Chu, President of the Institute for Defense Analyses, former Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, and former Director of Program Analysis and Evaluation, he appears today in a personal capacity; David Berteau, Director of the Defense Industrial Initiatives Group at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and also a former DOD official; and Paul Francis, Managing Director for Acquisitions and Sourcing Management and a 32-year employee of the Government Accountability Office.

“It is worth noting that at least three of today’s witnesses participated actively in the debates surrounding Goldwater-Nichols, the last time that DOD’s acquisition organization was given a top-to-bottom overhaul. Mr. Francis, you may have also participated in those debates, and I’m sure you will let us know if that is so. Since the recommendations of the Packard Commission led directly to the acquisition reforms in Goldwater-Nichols it would be interesting if each of you at some point today might share your perspective on how we can best apply the philosophy of the Packard Commission to today’s acquisition problems.

“The Committee on Armed Services has under consideration two serious proposals to reform the acquisition of major weapon systems. H.R. 2101 was introduced this Monday by myself and John McHugh along with Rob Andrews and Mike Conaway who lead our Panel on Defense Acquisition Reform, and a number of other members. H.R. 1830 was introduced March 31st as the companion measure to the Levin/McCain bill in the Senate, and was sponsored by Ellen Tauscher and John Spratt, both of whom have also joined as co-sponsors of H.R. 2101.

“Both bills focus on the acquisition of major weapon systems, which represent 20 percent of DOD’s annual spending on purchases. Now let there be no mistake, this committee and especially the Panel, are just as focused on the other 80 percent of defense acquisition. In addition, we remain focused on the overarching structural questions of the sort dealt with in Goldwater-Nichols. As is often the case, we must walk and chew gum at the same time, and we will deal meaningfully with all these issues.

“H.R. 2101 introduces 3 significant new concepts. Number one, we require the Secretary of Defense to designate an official as the Department’s principal expert on performance assessment. This official will provide the Department and Congress with unbiased assessments of just how successful our acquisition programs are or are not. Number two, we require certain programs to enter into a sort of intensive care 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, the decision point where we begin development of a production system. It is before milestone B when 75 percent of a program’s costs are actually determined.

“On the whole there is a lot in common between the two bills. About 25 percent is the same, about 50 percent is overlapping, and about 25 percent is only in the House bill. I am confident that our committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee can find common ground and compromise on this legislation expeditiously as we have so often in the past. I look forward to the recommendations of our witnesses for how to improve these bills as they move through the legislative process. Now let me recognize my friend and colleague, John McHugh.”


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