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Public Statements

Introduction Of The Improve Acquisition Act Of 2010

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

* Madam Speaker, I'm pleased to be joined by a number of my colleagues today in introducing the IMPROVE Acquisition Act of 2010. On March 23, the House Armed Services Committee's Panel on Defense Acquisition Reform completed its work by unanimously agreeing to its final report after a year-long investigation of the defense acquisition system. We held 14 hearings and 2 briefings and looked at the whole spectrum of the acquisition system. We found that while the nature of defense acquisition has substantially changed since the end of the Cold War, the defense acquisition system has not kept pace.

* It is still a system primarily designed for the acquisition of weapon systems at a time when the acquisition of services, and of information technology, represents a much larger share of the Department's budget. These other areas of acquisition operate very differently from weapons acquisition, but are just as complex and just as risky for taxpayers. It was clear to our Panel that changes are needed, but the extent and complexity of the problem presented a real challenge to us.

* Ultimately, we did find a group of common, overarching issues that we were convinced needed to be addressed. Across all categories of acquisition significant improvements can and should be made in: managing the acquisition system; improving the requirements process; developing and incentivizing the highest quality acquisition workforce; reforming financial management; and getting the best from the industrial base. The IMPROVE Acquisition Act of 2010 goes directly at each of these issues.

* It requires DOD to regularly and comprehensively assess the performance of the defense acquisition system, and puts the newly created Office of Performance Assessment and Root Cause Analysis in charge of these assessments. These assessments would not simply be material to fill reports to Congress. These performance assessments would be linked directly with the things that matter most to the people in the system: pay, promotion, and the scope of their authority. A similar performance management system is required for the current requirements process for weapon systems and the bill requires DOD to develop a requirements process for the acquisition of services. These systems will now be held accountable to the Department's senior leaders. The bill also requires DOD to revisit its acquisition policy to correct the bias towards weapons system acquisition, and requires DOD to assign actual military units to assist in the development and evaluation of major weapon systems.

* The central pillar of the defense acquisition system is the acquisition workforce. Only through supporting, empowering, rewarding, and holding accountable the acquisition workforce can the defense acquisition system be expected to improve. To achieve this, the bill gives the Department the flexibility to efficiently hire qualified new employees, and to manage its workforce in a manner that promotes superior performance. DOD is required to develop new regulations for the acquisition workforce which include fair, credible, and transparent methods for hiring and assigning personnel, and for appraising and rewarding employee performance. The bill also extends and codifies the Acquisition Workforce Demonstration Program, which already incorporates a number of these important elements, but has been dormant while the Department tried to implement NSPS.

* Another key pillar of success for the defense acquisition system is the Department's financial management system. DOD's inability to provide accurate and timely financial information prevents it from adequately managing its acquisition programs and from implementing true acquisition reform. The bill requires DOD to establish meaningful incentives for the military services to achieve unqualified audits well before the current mandate of September 30, 2017. It also requires consequences if they do not meet this mandate, which was enacted in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010.

* The last pillar underpinning the defense acquisition system is the industrial base. The bill requires the Department to enhance competition and gain access to more innovative technology by taking measures to utilize more of the industrial base, especially small and mid-tier businesses. And in managing that industrial base, the bill directs DOD to work with responsible contractors with strong business systems. It requires contractors to disclose whether they are delinquent on their taxes when they bid on a federal contract.

* I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this important legislation through the House in the coming weeks.

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