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Senate NDAA bill erases acquisition undersecretary

Senate Committee's proposed Fiscal 2017 NDAA would end acquisition undersecretary position.

By Geoff Ziezulewicz
Senate NDAA bill erases acquisition undersecretary
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) (L) and ranking member, Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), shown in January, presented a defense bill Thursday that would eliminate the undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, May 13 (UPI) -- The Senate Armed Services Committee's proposed Fiscal 2017 defense bill would eliminate the Pentagon's undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, divvying up that office's responsibilities in the name of greater efficiency.

The bill proposes $602 billion in funding for the Defense Department and the Department of Energy's national security programs, according to Thursday's National Defense Authorization Act announcement.

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The bill would erase the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics position and divide its duties among a new research and engineering office, as well as a management and support undersecretary office, the release states.

"Whereas all acquisition oversight and execution for everything that the Department of Defense buys is centralized in one office, the NDAA seeks to divide that into two parts," the release states. "The new (research and engineering undersecretary office) would be a staff office focused on innovation, oversight, and policy for the development of national security technology and systems," according to the release. "The revised Undersecretary for Management and Support would be a line office focused on running defense agencies that perform critical business operations."  The proposed legislation seeks to continue "comprehensive reform" of the acquisition system in a way that drives innovation and ensures accountability, according to the release.

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As the Pentagon faces a variety of threats around the world, the five undersecretary array continues to reflect a Cold War-era mindset, the committee states.

"DOD has struggled to innovate and tap into the technological advancements that are increasingly being driven not by large defense contractors, but by commercial technology firms that generally choose not to do business with the DOD (and have largely been deterred from doing so) due to the complex, costly, and unique demands of the defense acquisition system," according to the committee announcement.

The NDAA contains provisions designed to drive acquisition innovation and cease the decline of the American military's technological advantage, the committee states.

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"The provisions seek to improve acquisition outcomes by focusing on establishing accountability, accessing new sources of innovation, removing unnecessary processes and requirements and adopting best acquisition practices," the release states.

The bill also seeks to modernize the military health system, said Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

"The NDAA contains the most sweeping reforms of the organization of the Department of Defense in a generation," McCain said.

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