Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I wish to thank our witnesses for appearing this morning and for sharing with us their expertise on this important topic. Their insights are instructive to this committee’s continuing efforts to assess and remediate the defense acquisition system.
An effective acquisition system is vital to national security, because the Department of Defense relies on superior technologies, products, and services to perform its various roles and missions. However, we know that familiar challenges to system effectiveness, such as cost overruns, schedule delays, and performance failures persist. The defense acquisition system must become more cost-effective as budgetary resources become more constrained.
Congress can help optimize efficiency and combat dysfunction in the acquisition system by completely eliminating the threat of sequestration. We know that sequestration inflicts grievous harm on vital federal priorities, which include numerous investments in future defense capabilities. Success in the acquisition arena requires greater budgetary certainty.
Congress must also continue to work with the Department and with industry in building on the achievements of previous reform efforts and in sustaining a concerted undertaking to improve the defense acquisition system. In doing so, we should: sharpen DOD’s requirements generation and validation processes to set obtainable objectives; empower the acquisition work force; develop integrated acquisition data management systems to inform key decisions; foster innovation; enhance the vitality of the defense industrial base; and improve oversight of contractor performance.
Today’s hearing will focus on streamlining the acquisition cycle with the goal of producing timely and cost-effective acquisition outcomes. However, if we simply shorten acquisition cycles as they currently exist, we may only succeed in trading notionally tighter schedules for heightened risks of programs incurring unaffordable costs or failing to meet requirements. Establishing realistic requirements, using modular open systems architectures and incremental development processes on a more widespread basis, and relying more on the availability of mature technologies could help mitigate those risks, while helping to expedite acquisition cycle timelines. The Department is making encouraging strides in each of these areas, but I am interested in exploring whether these and other types of initiatives might be nurtured to strike the appropriate balance between acquisition cycle time and risk.
In striking that balance, we must also stress the importance of competition and developmental testing within the acquisition cycle. Competition spurs innovation and helps to control costs, while rigorous and thorough testing ensures that reliable capabilities are realized prior to their delivery to the warfighter. Competition and developmental testing are both necessary and beneficial to a healthy acquisition system, but they both take time. In reviewing ways to shorten acquisition cycles, I would not wish to see the time afforded either of those variables significantly diminished.
Each of our witnesses has extensive experience in the defense acquisition arena. I hope to learn from them how we might effectuate constructive changes to the defense acquisition cycle.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.