Fixing Acquisition, Maintaining Depots?

During his confirmation hearing last week, proposed Pentagon weapons czar Ashton Carter assured lawmakers that he intends to “take very seriously” the matter of the “competence and size” of the military acquisition force. Carter said an acquisition system can look great on paper but not work “if you don’t have the right people to do it.” Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) pressed Carter on the issue of competition because he said “other train wrecks” in weapons acquisition programs are looming down the road “that will make it very difficult for you to operate within the budget.” Of particular concern to Chambliss, who has two military depots in his state, was the potential for changes to the so-called 50/50 rule between public and private depot work that might shift more work to the private sector. He said, “I want a commitment from you that you will dialogue with this committee and particularly me about any changes that might be forthcoming to 50/50.” (In related concern, House lawmakers have asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates to halt all A-76 outsourcing studies pending a thorough review.) On 50/50, Carter told Chambliss: “Absolutely. I give you that commitment.”