SIMI VALLEY, Calif — The Pentagon plans to take two years to complete the reorganization of its acquisition, technology and logistics office, in order to avoid missteps as it creates two new replacement organizations.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of the Reagan National Defense Forum, Ellen Lord, the final undersecretary for AT&L, described the plan as a phased process, which will include quarterly progress reports and feature at least some jobs that report to both the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, and the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering.

“We are looking at structurally setting up the split so that there are some bridging positions where there will be certain individuals who report into both the under for A&S and the under for R&E, to be able to make sure we have continuity,” Lord said Dec. 2.

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The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act required the Pentagon to split AT&L into two organizations come Feb 1. The undersecretary of research and engineering will focus on developing future technologies; former NASA administrator Michael Griffin, currently nominated to be the deputy undersecretary for AT&L, is expected to take over that job. The second, which Lord will become, is the undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment (A&S), will have a day-to-day focus on existing systems.

Lord said the final road map for the split will be done by Feb. 1, as required. But by opting to roll the changes in over a two-year period, Lord hopes to smooth a transition which will feature the movement and cuts of personnel from all over the department.

“So, we are going to announce what we’re doing, we will put leaders in place, but it will take a while to fill the positions and reorganize and get everything operating under the new construct,” she added. “So it’s not a Big Bang theory, it’s an evolution to get where we have a full transition.”

The R&E spot has received much of the focus in the split, as it will become home to attention-getting groups like DARPA while developing new capabilities. But Lord argued that the split will also benefit the DoD’s bottom line, saying the unified AT&L often ignored sustainment in favor of technology development.

“We want to focus more on sustainment, because frankly about 70 cents of every dollar in the program goes towards sustainment,” Lord said. “We haven’t always spent as much time on sustainment at the front end of the program and we’ve paid for that towards the back end of the program.”

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.

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