Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A good sign from the administration on weapons acquisition...

... is the appointment of Harvard Professor Ashton Carter as the Pentagon's chief weapons purchaser, as a counterbalance to Raytheon lobbyist William Lynn.

From Stars & Stripes:

President Barack Obama has nominated Harvard professor Ashton Carter, a leading authority on arms control and a longtime academic, to serve as the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer, the White House announced Monday.

The choice of Carter to run the office that oversees hundreds of billions of dollars for new weapons and research — and is the focus of intense lobbying by defense firms, retired generals, and members of Congress — sparked concern within the defense industry and parts of the Pentagon bureaucracy when it was first rumored last month, the Boston Globe reported in its Tuesday editions.

But that may be exactly what Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates wanted, the Globe noted.

Unlike most of his predecessors, Carter has no professional ties to America’s arms makers or manufacturing industry, nor has he spent his career in procurement, according to the report. Instead, from his perch at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Carter has been criticizing the Pentagon for buying too much armament it does not need.

Advocates told the Globe that Carter was chosen because of his combination of technical expertise and knowledge of defense strategy. He served in a senior Pentagon policy post from 1993 to 1996. But as a relative outsider, the Globe wrote, the 54-year-old Carter should be better positioned to make what Gates has said will be "difficult choices."

"He is not being brought in to help the defense industry thrive," Loren Thompson, president of the Lexington Institution think tank told the paper. "He is being brought in to decide what we need and what we can do without."

Credit where credit is due: this is an excellent move.


John Famularo said...

"He is being brought in to decide what we need and what we can do without."

Wait and see if he decides that we don't need something that is manufactured in or based in some high ranking Democrat's district. If Obama backs him, then it might be a good sign.

Steve Newton said...

Granted; but it's a good appointment and at least offers the opportunity for change in the weapons procurement process.

Intellectual integrity requires me to give them points when they do something even potentially right.

Tyler Nixon said...

McCain raised this very issue last night. If McCain is serious, and they can trump the Murthas of the world, we might see some real progress.

Goldwater (McCain holds his seat) led major armed services reforms, the most profound in post-WWII, with Sam Nunn as his lead partner.

There is hope on this front if McCain cajoles Obama on this and keeps the heat on.

Anonymous said...

Before anyone gets their hopes up too high, read the Defense Acquisition Performance Report, 2006. the history of past efforts to improve the acquisition process are detailed as well as the lack of major consequences from these efforts. Unfortunately this effort suffered the same fate. The changes announced by England had little to do with the report recommendations.