February 1, 2009  

Procurement reform

TO THE OBAMA DEFENSE TEAM for indicating early on its intent to instill disci¬pline in the weapons pro¬curement process. In its public debut, the team suggested it would move away from supplemental spending measures and overhaul the weapons procurement process. If followed through — and let’s not forget that Donald Rumsfeld made similar promises — this would provide a solid foundation for sorely needed acquisition reform at the Pentagon. It’s imperative the team first scrutinizes the kinds of warfare it expects the U.S. to fight in the future and only then pro¬cures weapons that provide that capa¬bility — no more, no less. Mission must come first, not capability. It’s equally essential to inject realism, accountabili¬ty and independent assessment in the process for buying weapon systems. And the sooner the U.S. military gets away from its dependence on supple¬mentals not just for war but to pay for systems and programs, the quicker acquisition reform can begin. This team has homed in on the right priorities; now it must make good on its promises.