Defense Secretary Ash Carter has “concerns” about some of Congress’ current defense reform proposals, including a Senate Armed Services Committee plan to disestablish the undersecretary for acquisition, technology, and logistics position and move those functions elsewhere, he said Tuesday. “I believe strongly in acquisition reform. It’s a competitive world, and we need to make the best use of taxpayer dollars,” Carter said at the Sea Air Space expo in National Harbor, Md. Carter, who previously served as the undersecretary for acquisition, technology, and logistics, said he agrees with the Senate Armed Services Committee that the position has “become so preoccupied with program management … that it perhaps takes some management attention away from the research and engineering function,” but he said he believes separating research and engineering from manufacturing could create problems. The proposal also could “derail the success” the DOD has had in lowering contract cost growth on high-risk contracts, and “risks unhelpful micromanagement,” he said.
Carter also criticized the “budget gimmickry” in the House Armed Services Committee’s version of the bill, saying it threatens force readiness and “raids war funds at a time of war.” In addition to those specific proposals, Carter offered a general complaint about the defense authorization bills: T?hey have become “lengthy and extraordinarily prescriptive,” and have been used to block reforms like Base Realignment and Closure. “I would respectfully suggest that the informed expert judgment of the civilian and military leadership at the Department of Defense, which is embodied in our budget proposal, should receive greater support and be subject to less micromanagement,” he said.