Magazine article National Defense

Rep. Norm Dicks: Congress Should Revisit Acquisition Reform Legislation

Magazine article National Defense

Rep. Norm Dicks: Congress Should Revisit Acquisition Reform Legislation

Article excerpt

Congress may have missed the target when it passed a much-heralded acquisition reform bill last year. Even lawmakers are now questioning whether the legislation--the Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act of 2009--attacked the right set of problems plaguing the military procurement process.

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"I'm not sure we did the right thing," said Rep. Norman D. Dicks, D-Wash., chairman of the House defense appropriations subcommittee.

"We may have to relook at this," Dicks told a Capitol Hill industry audience.

Dicks lashed out at the dysfunction of current weapon-buying practices. Major programs are not just getting more expensive but also taking so long that the technology becomes outdated by the time a piece of equipment is fielded, he said.

The problem is that the system provides the wrong incentives. Contractors benefit from delays because they can charge the government more money for design changes, said Dicks. The government rewards big-ticket programs that keep piling on more high-tech requirements even if they are not useful or relevant.

"When we see what happened with Comanche, Future Combat Systems, Combat Search and Rescue [helicopter], all these programs were canceled," said Dicks, because costs and schedules spiraled out of control. …

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