Home' Army Acquisition Logistics and Technology Magazine : Army ALT October-December 2016 Contents In his keynote at the summit, he said, "In my 45-odd years in
the military and defense acquisition, I have lived through a lot
of cycles of what's called, usually, acquisition reform." While it
has taken on di erent avors over the years, he said, "generally
speaking, fads have not worked."
"I will tell this community and any other community that there
is no magic that's going to remarkably transform acquisition.
What it takes to make things better is professional people, hard
work and a willingness to challenge assumptions and a willing-
ness to go back and look at the data and understand what's really
happening. It's a very di cult, incremental process."
BBP is acquisition reform at the operational level, and the kind
of improvement that Kendall and Secretary of Defense Ash
Carter, his boss and predecessor as USD(AT&L), most want to
see in order to meet the challenges that DOD faces. Congress,
he said, keeps wanting "to replay the same experiments."
But that misses the point. "I think the basics about how to do
a program are understood," he said. "What we need to do is
just hone our craft and become better at it. So, what we've been
doing for the past several years, in the Better Buying Power ini-
tiatives in particular, is to address a number of areas that we
thought we could improve, learn from that experience and
then kind of move on to the next round of things." Improve-
ment has emerged from that work and from other experiences,
TAILOR AND CHALLENGE
Like the engineer he is, rather than going for magic solutions,
Kendall looks at the massive layers of rules that make up the
Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation as obstacles for which it
is possible to engineer solutions. In that context, xed rules are
too constraining, he believes.
One of the methods he wants "my acquisition people" to use in
all programs is tailoring. What he means by that is simple. It
comes back again to "think," he said in the inter view. "I empha-
sized tailoring---I wrote it myself---in [DOD Instruction]
5000.02 [Operation of the Defense Acquisition System] exten-
sively. I must have put the word in there 150 times." (A search
of the document turned up slightly fewer than 50 appearances.)
In reading about tailoring in 5000.02 and listening to Kendall,
it seems clear that what he wants program managers to do is g-
ure out how to make the rules work in their favor, not to follow
them without thinking. For Kendall, the key is critical thinking.
BETTER BUYING POWER PRINCIPLES
Kendall began his keynote at the third U.S. Army
Innovation Summit with a list of better buying power
principles. "I kept getting briefings from people who
would tell me, 'Sir, I'm doing better buying power
here. I'm following Better Buying Power principles,' "
he said. "And because I'd never put out any better
buying power principles, I thought that was interest-
ing, and I'd ask them what they were.
"Most of the time, people didn't know. But they were
following them. They were sure they were following
them. And most of the time they probably were. But
I thought it might be useful to actually write some
At the very top of the list, he said, is the importance
of people. Although that's not at the top of the list
of Better Buying Power initiatives "for a variety of
historical reasons," it tops of the list of principles,
because that's where people belong.
Principle 1: People matter most; we can never be
too professional or too competent.
Principle 2: Data should drive policy.
Principle 3: Critical thinking is necessary for
success; fixed rules are too constraining.
Principle 4: Controlling life cycle cost is one of our
jobs; staying on budget isn't enough.
Principle 5: Continuous improvement will
be more effective than radical change.
Principle 6: Incentives work---we get
what we reward.
Principle 7: Competition, and the threat of
competition, is the most
Principle 8: Defense acquisition is a team sport.
Principle 9: Our technological superiority is at risk,
and we must respond.
Principle 10: We should have the courage to
challenge bad policy.
116 Army AL&T Magazine October-December 2016
THINK, EXECUTE, IMPROVE
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