Sorting Out The Procurement Puzzle

Richard Danzig, former Navy Secretary and current senior national security policy advisor to Presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill,) said Oct. 2 that he doesn’t anticipate a decline in defense spending in the first years of an Obama Administration, but that some major defense procurement efforts would get a “serious scrub.” Danzig told reporters in Washington, D.C. (see above), that Obama’s team at the Pentagon would have to have some “gut checks” on several programs. He highlighted the Army’s Future Combat System, saying it would be looked at closely and noted that the Navy’s shipbuilding program has serious overruns that need to be reined in. When asked about the Air Force’s now-on-hold KC-X competition, Danzig said the Obama campaign would prefer to have the contract resolved earlier rather than later. “The companies deserve it, but, above all, the Air Force and all those who depend on air tankers deserve it and want it. We need this system,” Danzig said. He noted that the Obama campaign would like to see the Government Accountability Office’s recommendations regarding KC-X implemented, so the playing field is leveled. Danzig also singled out the missile defense program, saying it was a “rewarding area” and should be invested in, but its acquisition process needs to be changed. He cited as a major mistake former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s decision to wall off missile defense from the normal acquisition process, creating a “hobby horse of his own” while telling the services that they couldn’t have any similarly defined projects. The missile defense program “demands scrutiny,” he said. “It should be used to the extent it works, but it needs checks and balances.”