"I join the Chairman in welcoming our nominees and their families today, and congratulate them on their nominations. I particularly want to acknowledge Chairman Skelton, and thank him for being with us today.
"Mr. Chairman, I recently learned of several instances where the Department of Defense is not complying with Congressional direction. I intend to pursue a few of these issues with our witnesses today, but I will also be asking for further clarification before I will vote to approve these or any other DOD civilian nominations.
"Mr. Kendall, you have been the Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology for the last two years. I applaud you for your contributions to bringing the right tools and processes to bear on some of DOD's poorest performing programs. But the Department clearly has a long way to go before achieving anything resembling excellence in program acquisition. According to GAO, the cost of the Department's major defense acquisition programs has increased by $135 billion since 2008. In the last 15 years, about one-third of the Department's major weapons procurement programs have had cost overruns of as much as 50% over original projections. I would like to hear from you what you will do to improve the Department's future acquisition performance. I would also ask you to comment on the potential effects of sequestration, if imposed, on the Department's largest programs.
"Ms. Shyu, you have served since November 2010 as the Principal Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology. Over the past decade, the Army has been particularly unsuccessful in managing major acquisition programs, and the Future Combat System and the recently restructured Joint Tactical Radio System are egregious and costly examples of how not to meet a weapons system requirement. Taxpayers have a right to be frustrated and skeptical about the Army's ability to effectively develop and field major weapons systems. You have impressive credentials, and I look forward to hearing how you will work to correct deficiencies and improve Army acquisition.
"Ms. McFarland, you currently are serving as the President of the Defense Acquisition University and have been the Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition since October 2011. How will you, if confirmed, help minimize excessive cost growth and schedule delays in DOD programs, and how will you identify lessons learned and apply them to future acquisitions? Future instances of what Mr. Kendall has labeled "acquisition malpractice' are unaffordable and unacceptable, especially with $600 billion in planned budget cuts at the Department of Defense over the next decade, and $500 billion more if "sequestration' is imposed.
"Dr. Miller, earlier this week in Seoul, President Obama told Russian President Medvedev that after the upcoming U.S. election he will have "more flexibility' in negotiating with Russia on missile defense. This is a clear example of the President abandoning the commitment he made to the Senate just a year ago as a condition of ratification of the New START Treaty. At that time, the President also committed to modernization of the nuclear weapons complex. That commitment has been undercut in the FY13 budget which seriously underfunds the National Nuclear Security Administration and delays key elements of the nuclear weapons complex modernization plan. I would like to hear an explanation of the Administration's current position on NATO missile defense and your expectations if the President succeeds in gaining "more flexibility' and, I might say, less accountability to the American people after November.
"Ms. Conaton, the position you have been nominated to fill has been vacant for over five months, and the Inspector General of the Department of Defense continues to investigate whistleblower allegations against your predecessor. Much valuable experience and expertise in the Personnel and Readiness office has departed. While I give Dr. Rooney, as Acting Under Secretary, credit for her interim efforts, you will be taking over an office that is sorely in need of forceful, effective leadership.
"Such leadership has been lacking in articulating the policies that will enable the Services -- fairly and without sacrificing readiness -- to achieve a drawdown of over 100,000 active and reserve troops. Leadership is needed, Ms. Conaton, that will result in critically needed changes in the Defense Health Program, in the inefficient Disability Evaluation System, and in the unaffordable trajectory of military and civilian personnel costs.
"Ms. Conaton and Ms. Wright, in your roles as the civilian overseers of policies affecting the Reserve and Guard, it is essential that you help the Services, and help Congress, to achieve consensus about the future role and resourcing of the Reserve and National Guard.
"I again thank our nominees for their willingness to serve.