Can DoD Be "The Biggest Loser"? Gates Unveils DoD's New Fiscal Diet Plan

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After a decade of increasing appetite for defense dollars, the Pentagon appears to have stepped on a scale and decided to make some changes. Following-on from the Department of Defense’s June 2010 announcement regarding changing its procurement business models, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, Ashton Carter, recently unveiled their proposed procurement changes intended to redirect $100 billion over the next five years. Like the lifestyle changes made by contestants on television’s “The Biggest Loser,” the proposed measures, referred to collectively as a “wide ranging Efficiencies Initiative,” are an attempt to demonstrate to Congress that the Department can trim the fat, tighten the belt and use its hefty $700 billion annual budget in a healthier way.

As written, the Pentagon’s guidance contains five general areas of improvement with 23 principal actions the Department will implement to thin-down and shape-up. For DoD, these lifestyle changes include new “Milestone” requirements that projects must meet before continuing in the acquisition process, organizational and staff changes throughout the Department, and significant changes in the way offices solicit, negotiate, and manage their contracts. For contractors, however, the guidance means dealing with a Defense Department focused on a diet and exercise regimen consisting of affordability, productivity, and competition in a time when troop withdrawals may be signaling continued budget cuts.

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