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House Bill Pushes Acquisition Reform

On Wednesday, a House panel set up last year to study Defense acquisition reform unveiled a new bill that lawmakers believe will save $135B in taxpayer money over the next five years.  The bill aims at apply private sector principles to Departmental acquisition management.  Along these lines, Representative Robert Andrews (D – NJ), chairman of the panel, argued that the bill would establish evaluative performance mechanisms that could affect “pay, promotion and the scope of [individual Defense officials’] authority.”  It would also enable the Department to shift contract management from one Department office to another, injecting much-needed accountability into the overall process.

However, the bill’s fine print illustrates its shortcomings.  The legislation would apply to only 80% of the overall Defense budget, excluding the most expensive 20%.  In other words, the bill would not apply to the big-ticket items whose actually plays a role in inflating the Defense budget every year.

Lawmakers plan to fold the bill into the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2011, to be voted on next month.  The NDAA will be the first glimpse into what Congress intends to do with the President’s record-setting $708.2B Defense budget request for FY 2011.

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