WASHINGTON, Aug. 6, 2014 – The most important thing anyone can do to improve defense acquisition has to come from Congress, and that is to get rid of the threat of another budget sequester, Frank Kendall, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, said yesterday.
Kendall spoke to the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association’s Defense Acquisition Modernization Symposium, which is looking at ways the government, the Defense Department and private industry can work together to modernize defense acquisition. But he said Congress really holds the key and must “end the threat of sequestration.”
“If there is anything that is killing us today it is the threat of sequestration. We have been living in a nightmare budget situation,” Kendall added.
Defense acquisition professionals, he said, can only guess how much money they will be working with in out years. Congress “bought a little time” in relieving sequestration in fiscal 2014 and 2015, “but it’s coming right back in fiscal 2016,” Kendall added.
“We’re going to go through an exercise this fall where we look at what the president is going to submit and something that is in line with [what] sequestration is,” he said.
DoD is going to have to obey the law, and the damage to national defense from sequestration will be huge, Kendall said.
Sequestration is compounded by the fact that overseas contingency operations budgets will go away also.
“There is also the problem of not getting things like [base realignment and closure] and adjustments in compensation growth,” the undersecretary said.
Congress also will not allow the services to retire weapons systems like the A-10 Thunderbolt or to mothball some Navy cruisers. All this adds to the nightmare budget scenario for national defense, Kendall said.
“All those are bills to the department and the uncertainty confounds us, because we are reluctant to take out force structure because we might be able to afford it later. We just don’t know,” he said. “Because we have uncertainty we tend to hang onto things.”