The Department of Defense has all the tools and powers it needs to buy and develop cutting-edge technology, but it lacks the leadership to make and train the workforce to take advantage of them, according to the former Pentagon chief arms dealer.
Ellen Lord, who was deputy defense secretary for acquisition and maintenance during the Trump administration, said senators that “strong leadership” from military and defense agencies is needed to help the Pentagon buy the technology it needs more quickly.
“I think we have two huge challenges. One is taking risks and the other is moving faster. So there is a huge amount of power that Congress has given to the DOD over the last five years to gain faster, to get capabilities down into the hands of fighters, “Lord testified on April 26 during a hearing on the Armed Forces Committee. in the Senate on the health of the defense industrial base.
“They have been translated into both policy guidelines and implementation guidelines. However, strong leadership is needed to encourage the department to use them so that it can move faster. So, the tools are there, but I believe that management needs to have a department in charge of showing how they use other transaction rights, average acquisition, and so on. “
The Ministry of Defense already has good examples of this, she said, calling the Air Force Rapid Reaction Service and the Defense Innovation Department “pockets of achievement”, which have a model based on a clear communication path to leadership and the ability to move fast. “And needs to be scaled across the department.
“Currently, with not many politicians in DOD positions, we do not have a strong signal to modernize our practices and do not train people to use them,” she said.
Lord’s comments follow recent departures of senior DOD technology and acquisition specialists, including Jesse Salazar, Pentagon number two for Industrial Policy and Jason Weiss, the first of the DOD chief software director. The Biden administration also has a number of politically appointed vacancies to fill in the government, many of which require Senate confirmation. The White House has only 38 confirmed appointments from 60 positions in the Ministry of Defense traced on Washington Post and the Public Service Partnership.
But in addition to leadership, David Berto, president of the Professional Services Council, which advocates for government contractors, says the widespread acceptance of these bodies for rapid acquisition, while measuring their effectiveness under congressional oversight, also matters.
“I think it’s important from my point of view to recognize that speed is very important here. But we need to be able to do it, not just for a few, but for everything, “Berto said, adding that the PSC was recommending the commission to see how well the Pentagon was using the authorities to acquire quickly.
“I think the light of the floodlights will also help speed things up,” he told the committee.