NDIA Releases "Pathway to Transformation" Acquisition Reform Report

Arlington, Virginia, UNITED STATES

ARLINGTON, Va., Dec. 2, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Maj. General Arnold Punaro, Board Chairman of the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), and Jon Etherton, NDIA Senior Fellow for acquisition matters, today released NDIA's acquisition reform report, "Pathway to Transformation," developed at the request of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. The report is the end result of more than eight months of close deliberation with NDIA's members and acquisition experts and leaders inside the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill, and elsewhere. "We are grateful for the opportunity to make input to the Committees' and the Department's acquisition improvement efforts," Punaro said. "And we are especially grateful for the leadership of Jon Etherton, the expert's expert in acquisition law and policy, as he guided us through our research and writing process. I also want to recognize NDIA's policy head Will Goodman for his tireless efforts supporting our report and for his many substantive contributions to the recommended solutions," he added.

The report groups its recommendations under three broad themes, "authority and accountability," "matching requirements to resources," and "evidence-based decision making." Each theme includes one or more recommendations with specific implementation guidance, including either legislative changes, oversight plans, or funding proposals.

By making each recommendation specific and actionable, the report removes some of the guesswork for policy makers who otherwise confront broad recommendations without much guidance as to how they should be implemented. "We made sure that every recommendation in the report used one of Congress's three tools: legislation, funding, or oversight," said Etherton, who spearheaded the report and was its lead co-author. "Forcing ourselves to come up with implementing guidance brought some discipline to our process, and there were recommendations that we did not include in the final report because there was no way of implementing them that would guarantee a positive outcome. In producing these final recommendations, we took the Hippocratic approach, 'first do no harm.'"

NDIA's research began with a letter from the House and Senate Armed Services Committees on March 31, 2014, requesting the Association's views on improvements to the acquisition process. Following that letter, Etherton organized a large meeting of NDIA members to identify and group the major problem areas. That meeting led to working groups and a second large group meeting two months later for the working groups to present their findings. As the working groups did their research, Etherton and NDIA staff researched historical studies from the Hoover Commission through the recent 2014 Report on the Performance of the Defense Acquisition System. Additionally, Punaro and Etherton met with acquisition experts inside and outside the Pentagon to compare NDIA's findings with initiatives already underway. Taken together, these various data sets led to the report's final recommendations.

Etherton stated that he had already briefed the House Armed Services Committee staff on the report's recommendations and was arranging a similar meeting with the Senate Armed Services Committee. Punaro added that he and Etherton similarly planned to discuss the report and its recommendations with Pentagon leaders, including Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, Frank Kendall, his staff, and each of the Service Acquisition Executives. "Frank Kendall has demonstrated he is just as committed to improving acquisition outcomes as industry and the Congress, so we look forward to sharing the outcomes of our study with him and the Services," Punaro said.

"To have the world's finest military, you need three things: high-quality people, realistic and continuous training, and cutting edge technology. We in industry provide the cutting edge technology, and we have to make sure we maintain our technological edge in an affordable way. This report will make improvements toward that end," Punaro said. "Past efforts have shown that while acquisition is resistant to once-and-for-all reform, it can be improved. We called the report a 'Pathway' because continuous improvement of the acquisition system will be a journey, not a destination. We are very grateful for the opportunity to make our contribution to it," Etherton added.

You can read the full report here (http://bit.ly/1w0xwsG) and a one page executive summary here. (http://bit.ly/1w0xxNg)

About NDIA: The National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) is America's leading defense industry association promoting national security. NDIA provides a legal and ethical forum for the exchange of information between industry and government on national security issues. NDIA members foster the development of the most innovative and superior equipment, training and support for warfighters and first responders through our divisions, local chapters, affiliated associations and events.


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