More Authority Coming Back to USAF

When the tanker, several space programs, and other projects were either incurring Nunn-McCurdy breaches or resulting in successful award protests, the Air Force had quite a lot of acquisition authority taken away and held at higher levels of the Pentagon. That’s changing, said USAF acquisition chief William LaPlante. “I can only speak [to] … the two to three years since I’ve been here,” La Plante said in an interview with Air Force Magazine, ?but “every year we send a memo to [Pentagon acquisition, technology, and logistics chief Frank Kendall] of which programs we would like the delegation to be returned to the Air Force, [along with] the justification. And every year … we’re getting them back.” LaPlante was not immediately able to name names because some are still pending. However, he said he’s talked to Kendall about restoring USAF’s authorities, and “what’s important to us is that there’s a good acquisition plan—good strategy and execution—more than whether it’s him or me.” Even when LaPlante has the authority to make programmatic decisions, he said he’ll seek Kendall’s guidance because, “I value it.” Nevertheless, he said having USAF authority is important to the organization; not only for morale, but for speed. “Frank and I understand that if you really want to be agile, you try to push [decision-making] authority as far down as you can.” The Long-Range Strike Bomber is an Acquisition Category (ACAT) 1 program, and so, by law, falls under Kendall’s authority, LaPlante said.