The Pentagon’s New Idea for Streamlining Defense Spending

The Pentagon’s New Idea for Streamlining Defense Spending
Aerial view of the Pentagon (public domain photo by the United States Geological Survey).

The high cost of major military programs, like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the next-generation ballistic missile submarine, is a continuous source of headaches as the Obama administration struggles to balance the books. Successive administrations and Congresses have tackled the ways in which the U.S. military buys things, often with little effect. Yesterday the Pentagon made the case to Congress for a different approach for keeping costs down: empowering the people who actually purchase weapons and equipment for the military.

Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee, Frank Kendall, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, acknowledged previous missteps in improving the system. “Maybe we’ve been focusing too much on the wrong things” such as oversight mechanisms, he said, stressing that “defense acquisition is a human endeavor.” Reform efforts haven’t focused enough “on providing people with the skills and incentives they need,” he added.

He also emphasized the need to move away from “a culture that values spending over controlling costs.”

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