Solutions evolving for budget challenges, DoD official says
The Defense Department faces budgetary challenges, but solutions to those concerns are evolving, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics said here today.
Speaking to military and industry members at the annual ComDef 2014 conference at the National Press Club, Frank Kendall outlined his concerns for DoD, starting with another round of sequestration scheduled by law to take effect in fiscal year 2016.
“I think we’re in for a very painful process this fall … to come up with a budget submission for the president that will be consistent with his strategy,” Kendall said.
The United States is concerned, too, with the many and varied events happening around the world today, such as political unrest in other countries, Kendall said.
The undersecretary said he also is concerned with the U.S. military losing technological superiority in certain areas of warfare. “There are a number of reasons for that, but obviously the budget situation compounds the problem,” he said. Such a loss can result from several factors, Kendall noted, such as the actions of other nations and their growing capabilities.
“It’s quite clear [Russia and China] are building things that are designed to be effective against our objectives in the United States and anywhere else,” he noted. “And they’re doing a reasonably good job of it, particularly China. [U.S.] technological superiority is not assured.”
Further, budget cuts in research and development is also problematic because it delays modernization and the time it takes to deliver supplies and equipment to the force, Kendall said.
But the undersecretary said solutions exist to the concerns he outlined.
“That’s a pretty long list of problems. There’s a lot of work to be done, but we are making progress,” Kendall said. DoD’s four-year-old Better Buying Power initiative, he said, is responsible for much of that progress.
Improving cost consciousness
“The idea underlying [the initiative] is the desire to improve our cost consciousness, improve the way we manage so we’re focused on cost and not just spending, make it a core responsibility to drive down costs whenever we can, and to be more productive, efficient and put better incentives in place for industry,” Kendall said.
The Better Buying Power initiative’s third phase is due to roll out this month and will focus on getting DoD “back to our products and what we deliver to our warfighters,” Kendall said. “It’s going to be about innovation [and] technical excellence.”
Kendall emphasized that the United States is not alone in facing tightening budgets, noting many allies face similar fiscal challenges.
“We have a lot of democracies we’re in this with, … and I think we need to rely on that more and work together,” he said.