President Obama recently nominated Ashton Carter to replace Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense. Experts think Carter will be easily confirmed by the Senate, meaning acquisition reform will remain a top priority at the Pentagon.
Over the past 30 years, Carter has held three different positions in the Department of Defense (DoD) and is currently Hagel’s deputy. Carter played a key role in the initial development of the Better Buying Power (BBP) initiative in 2010. At the time of that initiative, he was the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. Previously, he served as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy under President Clinton.
Carter offered some candid insights into his view of acquisition reform in a 2010 memorandum, including this quote that captured the defense industry’s attention:
“To put it bluntly: we have a continuing responsibility to procure the critical goods and services our forces need in the years ahead, but we will not have ever-increasing budgets to pay for them. We must therefore strive to achieve what economists call productivity growth: in simple terms, to DO MORE WITHOUT MORE.”
Along these same lines, President Obama in his remarks announcing Carter’s nomination praised him for shaping a leaner military while also making the best use of available resources.
We like what Carter said in the memorandum about meeting challenges through innovation and industry incentives. A core part of this vision is the DoD’s continued effort to “finance industry investment needed to prepare products for the defense market.”
Fast-forward to today, and the upgraded Better Buying Power 3.0 (BBP 3.0) initiative advocates both streamlining of the DoD decision-making process and removing other barriers to buying commercial products. BBP 3.0 also aims to better incorporate industry feedback into final solicitations. We have provided such feedback on a number of occasions related to how the DoD procures and uses commercial satellite capacity. Two examples can be found here and here. We have also worked to better serve our military customers by helping to validate innovative technologies such as the protected tactical waveform on commercial satellites including Intelsat’s new EpicNG high-throughput satellites.
Clearly, our nation needs a military leader who has a vision for improving the acquisition process and best leveraging commercial innovations to help meet ever-growing mission goals and requirements.
Carter will be a candid, strong leader who will ensure that the United States does not lose its competitive edge during a time of limited resources. This is precisely what the nation needs right now.