Incoming SECNAV Ray Mabus seeks to reform the defense acquisition process as a way of reducing cost over-runs, procure a 313-ship Navy and bridge the out-year fighter gap:
Ray Mabus, President Barack Obama’s nominee to become Navy Secretary, vowed on Tuesday to put an “intense” focus on acquisition reform if confirmed for the job, warning that ongoing cost overruns would threaten U.S. national security.
“The acquisition process has to be gotten under control or we’re going to unilaterally disarm ourselves,” Mabus, a former Mississippi governor and U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee…
“Acquisition reform is a top priority for President Obama and Secretary (Robert) Gates, and if confirmed, one of my highest priorities would be to support them by ensuring the Department of the Navy acquires weapons systems in the most efficient and cost effective way possible,” Mabus said in a written response to questions from the committee.
I’m not saying that it can’t be done, but that defense acquisition is a notoriously resistant process to reform, since reform always seems to equate to increased oversight. Oversight – in and of itself – does not acquire functional systems on time and at cost. From my limited perspective, what it does do is require additional labor from an already over-burdened and risk averse acquisition workforce. Squaring this circle with SECDEF’s avowed intention to transition contract support personnel to the civil service ranks adds another layer of complexity.
If this works, perhaps the governor might focus on bringing peace to the Middle East.