WASHINGTON — The Pentagon’s top weapons buyer has given program managers the OK to begin discussions with contractors about how billions of dollars in spending cuts could impact acquisition programs.
Frank Kendall, the U.S. undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, sent the guidance in a Feb. 21 memo, obtained by Defense News.
The memo is the latest in a series of steps being taken by the Defense Department in advance of across-the-board defense spending cuts know as sequestration. These cuts, which amount to about $46 billion in 2013, will be triggered on March 1, barring congressional intervention.
In the missive, Kendall stresses the need to “keep industry informed about our plans and involved in our decision-making process to the maximum extent possible, particularly when ongoing or upcoming contracts may be affected” by sequestration.
Acquisition and program officials are “authorized and encouraged to have discussions with industry as they finalize plans relative to potential sequestration impacts and continuing resolution impacts,” Kendall said.
“[E]ngaging in this dialogue will allow industry to more productively make their own internal business plans to deal with potential sequestration impacts,” Kendall said.
The Pentagon is also operating under a continuing resolution (CR), meaning 2013 spending is frozen at 2012 budget levels, which are about $11 billion less than planned. The money is also locked in the same accounts as the prior year, meaning new programs cannot start and efforts that have been terminated are still receiving money.
“Even if sequestration is averted, challenging CR impacts may remain,” Kendall said. “Moreover, feedback from industry will provide valuable insights as government managers decide how best to move forward in attempting to meet the war-fighter requirements and DoD needs under severely constrained budgetary conditions.”