Former DOD Undersecretary Criticizes Pentagon Reorganization Proposal
In an interview Sunday with WJLA’s Government Matters TV show in Washington, D.C., Frank Kendall, who served until this January as the undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics at the Department of Defense, said the Pentagon’s newly-released reorganization plans are “not a step forward.”
Under the plan sent to Congress by the Pentagon, as required by the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), DOD would seek to solve perceived inefficiencies and failures to innovate technologically “by breaking up the job of the undersecretary for acquisition, technology, and logistics into two positions: one undersecretary for research and engineering and another for acquisition and sustainment.”
Kendall is extremely skeptical of the proposal’s ultimate efficacy, stating that he believed the plan “in its essence breaks up an office I think was functioning very well and recreates a situation we had before 1986,” which GovExec notes is a reference to the Goldwater-Nichols reforms that simplified the military’s chain of command by placing the branches under the broader umbrella of the Joint Chiefs.
Kendall went on to explain that he “was in the Defense Department at that time. The Packard Commission recommended going to a single head to oversee acquisitions. Leadership always matters, but organizations do matter as well.” Kendall suggested the plan ultimately means “going back to an organization that demonstrably failed at that time.”
Among the problems Kendall foresees is the complication that goes alongside “breaking up the life cycle of our products between different authorities so the technology and risk reduction at the earlier phases are under a different person than is responsible for putting them into production.”
Proponents of the plan, such as Arizona Senator John McCain, who chairs the Senate Armed Forces Committee, believe the plan represents a step toward better enabling DOD to focus on the two individual aspects of the current role. In a statement regarding the proposal, McCain said, “This new organization refocuses the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s principal role from program oversight to that of directing major department investments to ensure integrated, technically superior capability that consistently outpaces the threat.”
Posted in From the Hill