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Senate Aerospace Caucus Co-Chairs Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) hosted an important National Aerospace Week breakfast to discuss defense acquisition reform and the effects of sequestration on our national security on September 19. Senator Murray said sequestration puts our aerospace workforce investments at risk and the nation’s safety net “in tatters.” The former co-chair of the Congressional supercommittee said she is optimistic that a deal can be reached in the upcoming lame duck session of Congress.
Guest speaker Frank Kendall, Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics advised the packed room that the problem with sequestration is twofold: the sheer magnitude of the cut and the lack of flexibility in setting priorities. According to Kendall, it is possible that each of the Pentagon’s 2,500 budget lines would be reduced by the same percentage, without regard to program priorities or the effects on individual contracts and vendors.
Kendall went on to discuss a number of acquisition process reforms underway at the Pentagon, including the “better buying power” initiative, promotion of “should cost” analysis, and support of greater realism in establishing requirements. He noted that it is difficult to maintain these efforts under a six-month Continuing Resolution, and that sequestration would disrupt these and other important initiatives of his office.
The sequestration of almost $100 billion in defense and non-defense spending in 2013, as required by last year’s Budget Control Act, is now less than 90 days away. Congress plans to return to Washington on November 13 to address sequestration and other fiscal policy issues that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has likened to a “fiscal cliff” that the nation must address.
AIA Source: rich.efford[at]aia-aerospace.org