Week ahead: Pentagon buying reforms coming soon

Acquisition reform will be in the spotlight as the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee unveils his plans for the upcoming annual defense policy bill.

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) will outline his acquisition reform proposal at a speech Tuesday at the Brookings Institution.

He plans to introduce his proposal as standalone bill, elicit feedback and then fold it into the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).


Thornberry has said his proposal will focus on two areas: allowing the Pentagon to experiment with new technologies and clarifying the responsibilities of each of the different officials involved in buying decisions: the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.

The latter topic was addressed in the 2016 defense bill, but Thornberry wants to do more in the upcoming legislation.

"In a lot of respects, I'm looking at going back to basics here," he told reporters earlier this month. "Adding bureaucracy to deal with a problem is usually not a very good answer."

On experimentation, he wants the Pentagon to have more latitude to experiment with technology without it being a so-called program of record.

"Programs of record ought to be primarily when the technology has already matured so that we know how it's going to work, we know if will work, we know how much it's going to cost and then we can go buy a thousand or two or three of them," he said.

"At the same time, we need to try things and experiment and prototype and so forth, and we don't do enough of that because too often it has to be tied to a program of record."

Beyond acquisition reform, lawmakers have a jam-packed schedule as they press ahead in reviewing the Pentagon's 2017 budget request, among other topics.

On Monday, the Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a conference on reforms to the Goldwater-Nichols Act, which reorganized the Defense Department, at 8:30 a.m. at 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW.

On Tuesday, the House Appropriations defense subcommittee holds a member hearing day at 9 a.m. at Capitol HT-2, where lawmakers can highlight local priorities.

The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a hearing with senior military leaders on the state of readiness of the services at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Russell 222.

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs will hold a hearing on the U.S. visa program at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Dirksen 342.

The House Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on U.S. Transportation Command's posture for 2017 at 10:15 a.m. Tuesday at Rayburn 2118.

The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing with Navy and Marine Corps leaders on the 2017 budget request at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at Hart 216.

The House Armed Services Committee holds a hearing with the commander of Air Force Space Command Gen. John Hyten at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at Rayburn 2118.

On Wednesday, the House Committee on Oversight and Governmental Reform hosts an oversight hearing on Afghanistan construction projects at 9 a.m. at Rayburn 2154.

The House Armed Services Committee holds a hearing with service leaders on the 2017 budget request at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Rayburn 2118.

The House Armed Services Committee holds a hearing with Adm. Michael Rogers, commander of U.S. Cyber, on the 2017 budget request at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Rayburn 2212.

The House Armed Services Committee holds a hearing with the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at Rayburn 2212.

On Thursday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford and Pentagon comptroller Michael McCord head back to Capitol Hill. They are testifying in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee 9:30 a.m. at Dirksen G-50.

The House Armed Services Committee holds a hearing with Navy leaders on the 2017 budget request at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at Rayburn 2118.


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