Thornberry’s Acquisition Bill: Solid Contact, But No Home Run
Originally published in Defense One.
By Alex Haber & Justin McFarlin
Rep. Mac Thornberry’s much-anticipated defense acquisition reform bill makes considerable strides toward disrupting a procurement process that is widely considered broken, but the bill is far from a fix-all.
Titled “Agile Acquisition to Retain Technological Edge Act,” the bill by the House Armed Services Committee chairman synthesizes more than 1,000 proposals from an eclectic mix of Hill staffers, think tankers, industry experts and Pentagon brass.
The bill begins by attempting to improve the skills of acquisition personnel. In the same spirit as Rep. Thornberry’s March 23 remarks at CSIS, it strikes widely, by permanently extending the Department’s Workforce Development Fund; and narrowly, by directing greater training resources towards building expertise in market research. It also strengthens the foundation of the “dual-track career path,” a valuable staffing strategy that allows military personnel to pursue a primary career in combat arms and a secondary career in acquisition. Guided by this language, the system should see a much-needed injection of human capital.
Alex Haber is a business analyst and Justin McFarlin is an associate in the national security practice at Censeo Consulting Group.