Kendall: Acquisition Trends Positive

The Pentagon acquisition system is broadly “moving in the right direction” by doing things a bit faster, and with significant—and auditable—savings in the billions of dollars, d?efense acquisition chief Frank Kendall said Tuesday. Speaking at a Defense One conference in Washington, D.C., Kendall said his Better Buying Power and “should cost” initiatives are yielding “billions” in savings; an assertion he said is based on “hard data,” which he presented in a series of charts (Caution, large-sized file). There has been “significant improvement” in the number of Nunn-McCurdy breaches, he said, and successful protests of contract awards is small and dwindling. Despite a dedicated push, however, Kendall said there hasn’t been an increase in competition, although “we are holding the line” and not seeing a decrease. Program lengths, “in general, are coming down” as well, he said. However, he warned that in times of tight budgets—such as now—program managers in government and industry tend to make “optimistic projections” about how successful they will be, resulting in unrealistic expectations. Companies take more risk, perceiving all contracts as “must win” and expecting to get well later in a program; a dangerous mindset, Kendall said. Given the potential for sequesters or a continuing resolution, “people need to keep this in mind,” he said.