WASHINGTON — Pentagon acquisition head Frank Kendall has dropped a push for legislation that would give his office more oversight on defense mergers.
Kendall, speaking Tuesday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said he is now satisfied that his office has adequate oversight following an April letter from the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice.
The agencies letter verified "the scope" of Kendall's powers to object to a merger of defense firms, he said.
"I thought I had found that we had less discretion" than the Pentagon actually does, Kendall added. "I am now persuaded that [legislation] is not needed."
A defense official told Defense News that Kendall killed his legislation the day the letter was received. The secretary viewed the letter as confirmation that the two departments understood his concerns and would pay close attention to department concerns about mergers in the future, which the source said was the desired outcome of Kendall's legislative push.
It puts to bed an issue first raised by Kendall in September, following Lockheed Martin's purchase of helicopter giant Sikorsky in late 2015. At the time, Kendall raised concerns that major defense firms could essentially create monopolies on parts of the defense sector if they were allowed to merge unchecked.
"With size comes power, and the department's experience with large defense contractors is that they are not hesitant to use this power for corporate advantage," Kendall said then.
As recently as mid-March, Kendall was still pushing the legislation forward, with it being described as sitting in the interagency process.