WASHINGTON — After months of concerns from the Pentagon about acquisition reform language in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the Pentagon's top weapons buyer said today that the "most egregious" parts of the language were removed in conference between the Senate and House.
Frank Kendall, undersecretary for acquisitions, technology and logistics (AT&L), did not spell out exactly what the "most egregious" parts were. But the Pentagon has been warning for months that the language drafted by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., would strip Kendall's office of oversight authorities that are crucial for preventing cost overruns and failed programs.
Under the language in the NDAA, the services would pay a penalty of 3 percent on the overrun, which would then be funneled into a fund controlled by AT&L for prototyping of new technologies.
"We've looked at the current situation with this with all the programs we have now, and it turned out two of the services wouldn't have any problem at all based on past performance, and one service would have about a $20 million penalty," Kendall said. "That's sort of the practical implications of it. I understand the intent behind it. I'm just not as sure as a practical matter that it's going to be all that effective."
Asked about Kendall's comments, McCain did not seem concerned with the logistics.
"I'm glad to look at what recommendations he has. But for the first time, there's a penalty," McCain said.
Joe Gould in Washington contributed to this story
Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.