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Senate Passes Levin-McCain Pentagon Acquisition Bill

Earlier this month the US Senate approved its version of a defense acquisition reform bill by a vote of 93-0; it included an amendment that would give the Pentagon acquisition czar unprecedented say in the requirements development process.br /The bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain (R-AZ), is designed to improve the efficiency and speed of the Pentagon’s acquisition system. Under the current system, many defense programs end up costing taxpayers significantly more than originally planned, and new systems are frequently delivered to the armed forces years behind schedule. The House is also working on its version of such a bill.br /Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn yesterday hailed the “strategic direction” of both pieces of legislation. Levin was especially proud of the creation of a director of independent cost assessment who would report directly to the Secretary of Defense.br /The problem is that it’s really not clear how this might speed up the acquisition process, except for adding the requirement that the acquisition must include only technologies that are “sufficiently mature”. It does not address the existing competitive process. Apparently, it will assure that we don’t advance the technologies in staying ahead of potential threats. It would seem that an enormous pressure would be made on the Ramp;D contracts that would simply develop technology that might be useful for later weapons systems. In short, liberal senators McCain and Levin have written a bill that looks good but is so full of shortcomings that it’s a waste of time.

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