Deputy Defense nominee fields questions over shipbuilding, acquisition

President Bush's pick to be the next deputy Defense secretary faced tough questions on Navy shipbuilding plans and defense acquisition from senators Tuesday.

During his two-hour confirmation hearing, Navy Secretary Gordon England told Armed Services Committee members he would seek to simplify what he described as an overly complex defense acquisition system.

England said the matter is being evaluated as part of the Pentagon's 2005 Quadrennial Defense Review, a comprehensive look at military strategy, requirements, force structure and assets.

"We do have a QDR effort look at the whole acquisition aspect," England told the panel, adding that better oversight of the department's acquisition system would require a clearer understanding of how that system works.

Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain agreed with England that fixing the department's acquisition mechanism would not be easy but said any new legislation that imposes additional bureaucracies, regulations or other strictures on the system would be counterproductive and likely increase program costs.

McCain was referring, in particular, to the Navy's increasingly anemic shipbuilding budget and the inability of the service to keep pace with rising costs associated with what many see as a lack of competition among the nation's two major shipyards. Senate Armed Services Chairman John Warner, R-Va., agreed, asserting that Pentagon leaders must persuade the president of the need to provide sufficient funds for shipbuilding to "turn this curve around."

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., questioned the wisdom of the Navy's plan this year to mothball the USS John F. Kennedy and eventually retire the USS Kitty Hawk -- the nation's only two non-nuclear aircraft carriers -- given that Japan may ultimately decide it does not want to port a U.S. nuclear carrier.

England said he could not estimate the cost to pull the JFK out of mothballs if necessary, or the amount of time the Kitty Hawk could remain in service without requiring dry-dock repairs, but promised to answer these questions in writing. Warner and Nelson offered an amendment to the FY05 wartime supplemental before the Senate that would extend the JFK's service.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.