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Hearing of the House Armed Services Committee - Shaping a Workforce for Today's Acquisition Environment that can Meet DOD's Needs

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Hearing of the House Armed Services Committee - Shaping a Workforce for Today's Acquisition Environment that can Meet DOD's Needs

Defense Acquisition Reform Panel Chairman Rob Andrews

Opening Statement

Shaping a Workforce for Today's Acquisition Environment that can Meet DOD's Needs

"Welcome everyone to today's hearing on shaping a workforce for today's acquisition environment that can meet DOD's needs. Our witnesses today are: Mr. Shay Assad, Director, Defense Procurement Acquisition Policy Acting, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, Acquisition & Technology, U.S. Department of Defense; Lt. Gen. Lawrence P. Farrell, Jr., USAF (Ret), President, National Defense Industrial Association; and Professor Steve Schooner, Co-Director of the Government Procurement Law Program, George Washington University Law School.

"The Panel's focus is on the operations and efficacy of the acquisition system - in which the acquisition workforce plays a critical role. As the hearing title suggests, this morning we will be examining how we can shape the Defense Department's workforce to meet today's contracting environment.

"Together, we need to look at what is needed to reinvigorate the Department's acquisition workforce, whether the workforce has the right skill mix (currently and for future operations), and whether the workforce is adequately focused on the contracts where the money is being spent (such as service contracting).

"In addition to hearing from the DOD representative, Mr. Shay Assad, who is responsible for managing the department's acquisition workforce, we have two ‘outside' witnesses who have spoken out often on the critical need to improve and reshape the acquisition workforce as a national priority.

"I want to thank my colleagues on the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee who essentially laid the groundwork for today with a hearing they held in April on the overall state of the defense acquisition workforce. They also looked like at the implementation of several legislative provisions that have been enacted in recent years aimed at helping the Department of Defense develop an appropriately manned, skilled, and trained acquisition workforce.

"These initiatives, dating back to 1990, include efforts to professionalize the acquisition workforce (through appropriate training and certification requirements), the creation of an acquisition development fund, expedited hiring authority for acquisition positions, and the requirement for a career path for military personnel in the acquisition community.

"Given the challenges the Department's acquisition system faces, many of which are laid at the feet of the acquisition workforce, we must ask too whether the leadership within the Department of Defense and the Services are sufficiently focused on the critical nature of the mission performed by the acquisition workforce. Are they determined to create and support an acquisition workforce that operates as a force multiplier for the warfighter? Viewed in that light, then poor performance and inadequate size, composition, and training, as with any other warfighter support, should not be tolerated.

"Certainly some of the problems with the workforce may be laid at the feet of Congress which imposed a series of reductions on the overall size of the acquisition workforce in an effort to downsize that workforce in keeping with reductions being experienced in the workforce department-wide, and to reap part of the so-called ‘peace dividend.' But we did not foresee the significant jump in the Department's procurement budget ballooned, and with it, the number of contract actions accomplished. That is particularly true, as we've been hearing often, in the services contracting arena.

"Now we are struggling to rebuild that workforce. We commend Secretary Gates for undertaking a major hiring initiative specifically aimed at the acquisition community. But, as I said at the outset, our challenge remains with identifying gaps in the knowledge and capabilities of the workforce and ensuring we have the right skill mix. We must be focused on getting the people we need not only for today's requirements but those of the future. Institutionalizing successful lessons learned may help ensure that the past does not repeat itself.

"Finally, it must be pointed out that a professional, knowledgeable, well-qualified acquisition workforce benefits not only its DOD and military department customers, but private sector contractors as well. Better defined requirements, improved cost estimating, and full knowledge of the contracting process should lead to improved contractor performance - and frankly, fewer press headlines.

"I thank our witnesses in advance for their excellent testimony and their willingness to join us at this early hour. I now turn to Mr. Conaway for any remarks he may wish to make."

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