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Dr. Carter at Hanscom
Dr. Ashton B. Carter, undersecretary of defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, speaks to the Electronic Systems Center workforce May 25 at the Hanscom base theater. (U.S. Air Force photo/Rick Berry)
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Pentagon acquisition chief talks 'Better Buying Power' at Hanscom

Posted 6/3/2011   Updated 6/3/2011 Email story   Print story


by Patty Welsh
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

6/3/2011 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- The undersecretary of defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics spoke to the Electronic Systems Center workforce May 25 regarding DoD budget challenges, efficiency initiatives and their impact.

Dr. Ashton B. Carter emphasized to a full auditorium that the defense budget for the next decade will not be similar to the past 10 years and implementing efficiencies will be up to everyone.

"Supporting the ongoing fight is job one for all of us," he said. "Job two is to get the best value for the taxpayer and the warfighter."

During the town hall meeting, Dr. Carter spoke about cutting programs that weren't needed or performing poorly. Now cost savings need to be found in remaining programs.

"What we have is what we want and need, and we need to complete them and we need to make that happen ... for not more money every year," he said.

He discussed the points of the "Better Buying Power" guidance he put out in September and also the usage of contract types.

Using Fixed Price Incentive Firm contracts is "not dogma," Dr. Carter said. "It applies only if we know what we're doing, it isn't going to change and the contractor knows the projected cost and has mastered the process."

He said contracts are business deals with contractors. The contractors should know if they don't perform, their contract dies. And those that are performing well should be rewarded. He also highlighted competition, including sole source contracts by comparing them to a marathon runner who is only looking to beat the clock.

"The contractor should be looking for follow-on business and reputation," he said.

Knowing what a program's requirements are is also key to success, according to Dr. Carter. There needs to be a rapport between requirements and acquisition, and if acquisition personnel see an opportunity to save money or change the way things are done to improve, they need to ensure they have that relationship with the customer.

"Program managers should have a deep understanding of the product," the undersecretary said, while admitting that the systems engineering capability is not as strong as it should be in the DoD. "I know you are doing a lot with less than you should have."

Dr. Carter made it a point to say the acquisition workforce had been cut too much previously on both the civilian and military sides and both he and Air Force Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Acquisition David Van Buren would be keeping a close eye on acquisition personnel numbers.

"You are a very important part of meeting this national challenge," he told the audience.

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