Better Buying Power 4.0 could be reality if stars align

There are a lot of variables involved, but there is a possibility that Defense Undersecretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall could be at the helm of the fourth iteration of the Pentagon’s attempt to make acquisition more efficient.

Kendall gave a sneak peek at what a Better Buying Power 4.0 might look like Sept. 7 during the ComDef 2016 conference in Washington.

“The thing that we have not put a full court press on is the sustainment side of the house. I’ve told Kristin French who is the principal deputy assistant secretary for logistics and materiel readiness I want her to start thinking about that,” Kendall said. “There’s some things I probably want to kick off even in the last few months of the administration in that area.”

Kendall said one area of concern is he doesn’t feel DoD takes sustainment costs into source selection.

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“It’s hard to do that because those costs are a long, long way away… but I think we need to do a better job there, so sustainment to me is sort of the thing we have not put enough scrutiny on, we have not done enough about,” Kendall said.

Operating and sustainment costs take of a majority of the costs for major acquisition programs, stated the DoD’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation 2014 operating and support cost-estimating guide.

DoD requested about $206 billion for its operation and maintenance account in the 2017 defense budget.

Still, a lot of ducks need to be in a row before it’s known if Kendall will be around to implement at Better Buying Power 4.0.

In January, a new presidential administration will take over and with it will come new presidential appointees, including the Defense undersecretary for AT&L.

Some experts like Mike O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution have theorized that if Hillary Clinton is elected president there is a high probability that she will keep Ash Carter on as Defense Secretary and with him many of the top positions like Kendall’s.

Kendall seemed to hint during his speech that he would stay in his position another year if asked.

Before Kendall can focus too much on what the next administration brings, he must deal with the obligations the Obama administration is still dealing with, namely the defense authorization bill (NDAA).

Kendall took shots at both the House and Senate versions of the NDAA. He chastised the House version of the bill for using war spending to pay for extra items in the 2017 base budget, effectively creating a fiscal cliff for the wars in April.

Kendall called the Senate version of the bill, which removes Kendall’s position in DoD, a micromanagement of DoD.

“It’s by far the longest bill, authorization bill, that we’ve seen come out. It has an enormous amount of detail about how the Secretary of Defense should basically do his job,” Kendall said.

Kendall said Obama will likely veto the bills if they come to his desk as is. He added that because of the election he has no idea how the process will play out, but it was possible the bills might have to wait until the next administration to be passed.

Later in a discussion with reporters Kendall said there are some authorizations DoD needs in the 2017 NDAA that require its passage.

“Because the NDAA doesn’t actually appropriate the money it’s not of the same level of concern as the appropriations bill. There are some things we could get under a continuing resolution. We would need them eventually. Overall, and I want to get in front of [DoD Comptroller] Mike McCord about this and the secretary, is we can live with a three month [continuing resolution], but if we go beyond that we really need some specific authorities,” Kendall said.

One authorization Kendall said DoD needs has to do with the KC-46 refueling tanker. He said if DoD can’t get approval to up its production rate, the department will lose a lot of money.