Home' Army Acquisition Logistics and Technology Magazine : Army ALT April-June 2015 Contents a particular contracting mechanism is
appropriate, and then everyone wants to
go and use that mechanism for every-
thing, which is not appropriate.
Kendall: That’s absolutely right. We
do such a wide variety of things in the
Department of Defense, and we have
such a wide variety of circumstances. If
you just look at product acquisition or
development, the risk profile for differ-
ent products is very different, and that
drives how you structure the acquisition.
And you can, in some cases, do fixed-
price development contracts, and in other
cases—most cases—you want to do cost-
plus, but not always.
In some cases, you’re trying to support
a warfighter who’s engaged in combat,
and you’re going to accept a lot more
risk in how you structure the acquisition,
because it’s really important to have that
capability in the hands of the warfighter
as quickly as possible. So we need to be
flexible, and we need to think. One of
the fundamental premises, if you will, of
Better Buying Power 2.0 was about the
importance of people thinking critically
about their options and about the best
course of action in a given circumstance.
Army AL&T: Do you think we’ve made
progress in that respect, getting away
from schoolhouse thinking?
Kendall: Yeah, I do. I think a lot of peo-
ple embrace that. It gives more room for
creativity. I think it’s more challenging,
and some people embrace that. There are
people who, I think, like to be told what
to do. Frankly, they’re not the people we
need leading our programs. We need peo-
ple who have good judgment and have a
good basis for making the judgments that
they have to make based on their experi-
ence and training and so on.
Army AL&T: You have said that the real
problem is the burdens and limitations
placed on program managers in doing
their jobs. With the legislative solutions
that are working in DOD, what do you
hope to accomplish?
Kendall: That particular set of initia-
tives has a relatively narrow purpose,
and it’s to remove some of the complex-
ity and overhead and, in some cases, even
inconsistencies in the rules that govern
our program managers. I was motivated,
when we were doing the DOD 5000.02
acquisition system instruction, when I
realized the very long section of tables
of compliance requirements that our
program managers had to follow—very
complicated, very hard to work your way
through, and a big burden to meet all
So the intent with that initiative was to
go see if we could simplify all that and
make it more comprehensive and clearer
and more coherent, and I think we’ve had
some degree of success. It’s not, on its
face, exciting things, but they are things
that will give our program managers back
something they need more than any thing
else, and that’s time.
Army AL&T: What is the status of that
Kendall: It’s gone forward. It’s been
approved by the Office of Management
and Budget, and it’s up on the Hill now
for consideration. It’s been delivered to
both of the authorization committees.
And, as they work through their thoughts
on acquisition reform, I’m hoping that we
can work together on this. I think there
are other ideas out there that we will be
discussing as well. But so far, the response
I’ve gotten from both the House and Sen-
ate sides has been very positive. I think
it will probably be associated with the
National Defense Authorization Act ulti-
mately, the authorization bills.
I understand that the House may do a
separate bill on acquisition reform, and it
may incorporate some of these [ideas] in
that. But I don’t believe anything’s been
Army AL&T: Can you share with us
some of the ideas and suggestions for
improving acquisition outcomes that you
offered during recent testimony before
the House Armed Services Committee?
Kendall: I’ve testified before both the
House and Senate A rmed Services Com-
mittees on this, and one thing that I
think comes back with a fair amount of
consistency on both sides of the aisle—
and I think I agree with this—is the
When I look at the history of defense acquisition, it’s almost
impossible to correlate any policy change with improvement.
What I’ve tried to do over the last several years and will keep
doing is to make a lot of policy changes and a lot of practice
changes that make incremental improvement.
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