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U.S. GOVERNMENT FUNDED THROUGH DECEMBER 22 UNDER SECOND CONTINUING RESOLUTION
Friday, December 8, 2017
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Source: Martin Falbisoner


Source: Martin Falbisoner


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WASHINGTON - Congress passed the second continuing resolution of the 2018 fiscal year on December 7, funding the government at FY17 levels through December 22. The move avoided a government shutdown, as the previous CR expired December 8. Congress now has two weeks to either reach a deal on the FY18 budget, or to pass another CR to provide more time.

The president met with congressional leaders on December 7 in an effort to negotiate a potential two-year budget deal, which could guide spending in both FY18 and FY19. Unable to find a permanent alternative to the Budget Control Act, which placed limits on both defense and non-defense spending, Congress relied on a pair of two-year budget deals that provided partial relief from the spending caps in FY14/FY15 and FY16/FY17.

There is currently no deal in place for FY18. The president's FY18 budget request exceeded national security spending caps by some $54 billion, and congressional defense committees have called for even higher spending than that. The options available to Congress have not changed since the passage of the BCA: pass legislation to permanently eliminate or alter the spending caps, pass legislation to temporarily or partially adjust the caps, or funnel money into the Overseas Contingency Operations account, which is not subject to spending limits.

Lawmakers will likely try to utilize a combination of the last two options in order to maximize defense dollars, but it remains to be seen how much funding the DoD will actually receive. A final FY18 spending bill will likely fall well below the mark set by Congressional defense committees thus far, which have sought upwards of $700 billion. It is even possible that spending could fall below the level of the FY18 request. For Congress, the clock is ticking.

Source:  Forecast International - International Military Markets
Associated URL: https://www.defensenews.com/congress/2017/12/07/us-congress-avoids-government-shutdown-at-least-for-two-more-weeks/
Source Date: December 8, 2017
Author: S. McDougall, Defense Analyst 
Posted: 12/08/2017

 
 
U.S. ARMY FUTURES COMMAND TO REFORM MODERNIZATION, SAYS SECRETARY OF THE ARMY
Friday, December 8, 2017
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Secretary of the Army Dr. Mark T. Esper

Source: US Army


Secretary of the Army Dr. Mark T. Esper

Source: US Army


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WASHINGTON - The new U.S. Army Futures Command with its eight cross-functional teams, or CFTs, will provide the unity of effort and command needed to reduce the requirements development process from 60 months down to around 12, said Secretary of the Army Dr. Mark T. Esper yesterday.

Futures Command was informally referred to as modernization command when its inception was first announced by the acting secretary of the Army and chief of staff in October.

Esper spoke Dec. 7 during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on acquisition reform efforts within the Department of Defense.

There are eight CFTs being organized, he said. They consist of leaders from the requirements, acquisition, contracting and sustainment communities, who report directly to the under secretary and vice chief of staff of the Army.

The CFTs' primary focus will be on the Army's six modernization priorities, Esper said, which are the development of improved long-range precision fires, a next-generation combat vehicle, future vertical lift platforms, a mobile and expeditionary Army network, air and missile defense capabilities, and Soldier lethality.

"Mindful of past failures, the Army will ensure that technological solutions are mature before we begin a program of record," Esper said. "This includes a threat-based strategy that has aligned 80 percent of the Army's science and technology funding requests against the six modernization priorities."

Also, the process for getting requirements met will be streamlined, he said, consisting of an iterative process including prototype development; demonstration and testing; and evaluation.

If the evaluation results in failure, then that three-step cycle will be repeated until a successful outcome is obtained, followed by production and fielding decisions, he said.

Success, he added, could just be getting to the 80 percent solution on a requirement.

The secretary also listed a number of other modernization efforts the Army is focusing on.

In the past, personnel turnovers within programs of record has been a concern, he said. To negate that, program managers' tenures will be aligned with critical program milestones.

The Army has also written eight directives intended to improve the capability and materiel development process by refining how requirements are generated, simplifying the contracting and sustainment processes, and evaluating progress through metrics, he outlined.

Finally, he said that the Army has "reinvigorated" its Requirements Oversight Council. A recent result of that effort was getting the new Army handgun delivered much sooner than anticipated.

While making reforms within the Army, the secretary asked for help from lawmakers in getting a budget passed with predictable and adequate funding.

Without an adequate budget, it is especially hard for small industries to do business with the Army, he said. "We risk losing those folks who may decide to get out of the defense business and go elsewhere."

He also asked the senators to look into simplifying the complexity of the Federal Acquisition Regulation, or FAR.

Lastly, Esper noted that the day of the hearing was the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.

"We were caught off guard at Pearl Harbor," he said. "But in a few short years we re-energized industry and the American people to fight and win that war. We need to take that same sense of urgency to the challenges we face today."

Source:  US Army
Associated URL: army.mil
Source Date: December 8, 2017
Author: David Vergun Army New Service 
Posted: 12/08/2017

 
 
SECAF TESTIFIES BEFORE SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE ON IMPROVED ACQUISITION PROCESSES
Thursday, December 7, 2017
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Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson

Source: US Air Force


Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson

Source: US Air Force


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WASHINGTON - Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee Dec. 7, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

Also testifying were Ellen Lord, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, Mark Esper, secretary of the Army and James Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition.

The Defense Department is charging ahead in using new authorities, outlined in the fiscal year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, which delegated acquisition authorities back to the services. This allowed the process to be streamlined, sped up and reformed, ensuring warfighters get what they need, when they need it, the Pentagon's top acquisition official told the Senate Armed Services Committee Dec. 7.

"Before that act came into being, 19 of 49 of the largest Air Force programs were actually managed in decision authority kept at the Office of the Secretary of Defense level," Wilson said.

The Air Force had decision authority over 39 percent of its programs - today it’s 76 percent.

Wilson also said the undersecretary recently delegated eight more programs for Air Force management, one of which has moved forward with an approved strategy, saving three months of acquisition time by pushing authority down to the service.

Another topic she discussed was the Other Transaction Authority, which targets non-traditional DoD contractors, or small innovative companies.

As an example, the Space and Missiles Systems Center just approved a $100 million contract for a consortium of innovative companies providing the Air Force space, ground and communication capabilities - particularly for space forces - an OTA contract that only took three months to put together.

"You’ve given us back authorities and we’ve been taking advantage of them in a number of ways," Wilson said. "There is much more work to be done, but we’re beginning to make some progress...we have a chance of better meeting the adversary in 2030, and that’s what this is all about."

Lord said her office is pushing the responsibility to restore America’s overmatch against any possible foe out to the services.

For the last two years, the national defense authorization acts have given new tools to DoD in an effort to cut through the red tape that often delays acquisitions, hobbles modernization plans and hinders current readiness.

The acts "have provided the direction and the tools for the department to advance the capabilities required to restore our overmatch, speed the rate in which we field these advanced capabilities and improve the overall affordability of our fighting forces weapons systems," she said.

All these go to Defense Secretary James N. Mattis’ priority to improve the lethality and readiness of the American military.

Lord, who came to her position after serving as the CEO of Textron Systems, said she wants AT and L to emulate practices used in industry, in effect acting as a very lean corporate office, "enabling the services -- as businesses -- to execute programs they are responsible for. AT and L should be pushing the majority of the work back to the services."

DoD should focus on prototyping and experimentation, she said, adding that her organization should also develop architectures and standards, interpret law into policy and procedures and simplify acquisition processes.

"Stating it plainly, AT and L needs to be the strategic body with focus across the board driving affordability and accountability, reducing timelines and equipping the services to execute their programs," she said.

Potential for ‘Significant’ Improvement

On average, Lord said, the department awards 1,800 contracts daily, and 36,000 delivery and task orders. Given that volume, she added, every improvement made has the potential to produce.

Lord also said she believes DoD should be able to speed the award of a contract by as much as 50 percent.

"Some of the ways we intend to do this is to incentivizing contractors to submit responsive proposals in 60 days or less, and implementing electronic department-wide streamlining tools," she said.

Noting that Congress gave the department tools that speed up foreign military sales, Lord added she would like to see the same authorities used for DoD purchases.

Four of 17 individual awards for excellence in acquisition presented yesterday went to personnel from U.S. Special Operations Command, Lord told the Senate panel.

"Our challenge is to take…these silos of excellence and scale them to the big Army, the big Navy and the big Air Force," she said.

The department also is using rapid hiring authorities to bring in world-class experts in a number of fields, Lord said. These include experts in robotics, artificial intelligence and lasers, as well as new contracting specialists and engineers.

"Reforming and improving the defense acquisition system to create an agile enterprise is a continuing process requiring close partnership across the department and with Congress," she said. "You have my total commitment to the success of that partnership."

Source:  US Air Force
Associated URL: af.mil
Source Date: December 7, 2017
Posted: 12/08/2017

 

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