[For Public Release by Senate]
1. What are your goals, for the transformation of the Marine Corps to meet new and emerging threats?
Our goal will always be not merely to meet new and emerging threats, but to maintain a margin of overmatch over potential adversaries. We do not want a fair fight. Among the more significant changes we must make are the rapid expansion of robotic and autonomous systems, major changes to our individual and collective training systems, and development of our offensive and defensive capabilities in the information operating environment. Progress in these areas and others will require accelerating business reform initiatives and streamlining the existing acquisition process and structure.
2. How would you assist the Secretary of the Navy in the performance of certain acquisition-related functions, while ensuring compatibility with the duties and responsibilities of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition?
I would assist the Secretary of the Navy in the performance of specified acquisition-related functions in a number of ways: requirements development; decisions on balancing resources and priorities, and associated trade-offs among cost, schedule, technical feasibility, and performance on major defense acquisition programs (MDAPs); control of requirements creep; recommendation of trade-offs among life-cycle cost, schedule, and performance objectives, and procurement quantity objectives; program termination when appropriate; development and management of career paths in acquisition for military personnel; and assignment/training of contracting officer representatives.
Congress has empowered us with middle tier acquisition authorities that we are now employing to leverage technology growth, innovate, and enhance capabilities in the force. These capabilities along with more traditional means provide the opportunity to more rapidly develop the force.
3. What actions would you take to improve all three aspects of the acquisition process—requirements, acquisition, and budgeting?
Given recent legislative acquisition reform, it would be a good first step to assess what actions we have taken within the Marine Corps to date, and the results of those actions. In defining and refining our requirements, we must balance the desire to achieve perfect clarity and include every possible role of a given capability against the practical aspects of rapid technology development and ever-improving peer competitors/threats. Rapid prototyping and getting those prototypes into the hands of Marines early on will be key.
Where joint programs make sense, we should remain full partners and seek to accelerate the acquisition process. Early and frequent coordination with industry will help not only our requirements development actions but also acquisition, especially in the early stages of equipment fielding. We also must ensure that industry carries their fair share of risk throughout the acquisition process.
We must continue to find ways to achieve more stable and predictive program budgeting over time. Additionally, we must pursue measures that will improve transparency and ensure full accountability for the expenditure of resources provided by Congress.
4. What actions would you propose to ensure that requirements are realistic, technically achievable, and prioritized?
I believe that an annual, critical review process is essential. Each year we assess the current state of the Marine Corps against the prevailing strategic guidance with a long view (at least one Future Year Defense Program (FYDP)) to determine which current capabilities can be reduced or eliminated and which capabilities we must strive to achieve and in what timeframe.
Based on this critical assessment we build the Marine Corps Enterprise Integration Plan (MCEIP) that lays our priority areas, taking into consideration technical feasibility and resource availability. This plan is ultimately passed to the programmers where additional scrutiny is imposed to ensure prudent expenditure of taxpayer dollars to achieve critical warfighting capabilities in a timely and efficient manner.
5. What specific measures would you recommend to control “requirements creep” in the defense acquisition system?
Requirements creep typically comes from one of two directions: the Service identifies an additional task or application for a specific program, or the vendor identifies additional capabilities beyond that listed in the original requirements document.
Controlling requirements creep requires a degree of discipline (not all desires are needs); a realistic view of technological maturity; and a rational assessment of additional cost versus expanded or improved capability. There are times when it makes sense to modify a requirements document to take advantage of an affordable adjustment that would significantly improve or expand the capability. No two cases are identical and each case should be weighed in the larger context of overall Marine Corps requirements.
6. How would you utilize your authority to arrest the exponential escalation in cost that, in recent history, has marked the acquisition life-cycle of Service platforms and weapons systems?
Well defined requirements, adequate resourcing, and realistic development, testing and fielding schedules go a long way toward mitigating cost growth when coupled with incentivized contracting and sound program management. In some cases, increases are unavoidable; however, they can be managed if they are identified early and can be incorporated into the phased program management plan. If confirmed, I would push authority and accountability back down to where it belongs, at the lowest capable level.
Leverage my support/advisory role during Material Development Decision Review and subsequent milestone decision reviews to align material solutions to identified requirements. Emphasize development of realistic program cost estimates.
7. How are responsibilities for aspects of the function of research and development relating to test and evaluation for Marine Corps acquisition programs?
Currently, T&E authorities reside within two separate elements of the Marine Corps’ Acquisition Community: the Marine Corps Systems Command is responsible for DT&E and the Marine Corps Operational Test and Evaluation Activity is responsible for OT&E. These are supplemented capabilities at the DoD level.
8. What is your assessment of the appropriate balance between the desire to reduce acquisition cycle times and the need to perform adequate test and evaluation?
Adequate test and evaluation is paramount to ensuring our support of the Marine Corps mission. Acquisition test and evaluation consists of two distinct processes. First, Developmental T&E provides the essential metrics that enable the overall management and execution of Contractor and product performance. DT&E verifies the Contractor’s work and product performance to its specification. Operational Test and Evaluation assesses if the weapon system delivers the required warfighting capability within the context of the Mission Profile and Concept of Operations. OT&E validates the system meets the Warfighters capability needs.
9. Under what circumstances, if any, do you believe it appropriate to procure weapon systems and equipment that have not been demonstrated through test and evaluation to be operationally effective, suitable, and survivable?
Rarely, if ever, would it be appropriate to procure systems and equipment in support of the warfighter without requisite testing and evaluation. With the means available today to rapidly prototype and procure limited quantities for experimentation, there is no real justification to take shortcuts with regards to processes that will ensure optimum operation, safety and maintainability and the resultant tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) that are the products of prudent test and evaluation activities.
10. What do you see as the role of the developmental and operational test and evaluation communities with respect to rapid acquisition, spiral acquisition, and other evolutionary acquisition processes?
For Rapid Acquisition, the Marine Corps established a Marine Corps Rapid Capabilities Office. The RCO ties in all communities in the development of one consolidated plan and report that yields both a technical (DT&E) and military utility (OT&E) assessment with each effort.
Both spiral and evolutionary development programs afford accelerated prototyping and fielding but along traditional acquisition authorities. Again, adequate test and evaluation is paramount to the success of these programs.
I would look for ways to streamline Developmental Test & Evaluation and Operational Test & Evaluation. The goal is to accelerate fielding without sacrificing necessary test and evaluation.
The first step should always be to find out if there are ways to capitalize on investments from OSD and the other Services. There may be ways to apply machine learning as well as testing and evaluation done by organizations like DIUx.
We began an Technology and Tactics Exercise and Exploration program and evolved the process of linking operators and technologists (warfare centers and industry) to rapidly innovate and field relevant capabilities supporting emerging concepts. This program meets the assessment criteria for middle tier acquisition and has been a catalyst for change. Through two of these evolutions we have developed over 50 new prototype technologies that address NDS goals.
Additionally, we can continue to accelerate development of capabilities by placing significant emphasis on our investments, in both manpower and resources, into our RDT&E activities, and continue to partner with organizations such as the Office of Naval Research, DARPA, SCO and DIU