Defense Department file photo

Pentagon Strives for Even Better Buying Power

Upgrade to acquisition strategy stresses long-range R&D, cybersecurity and commercial sourcing.

The Defense Department on Thursday released the third update of its Better Buying Power acquisition strategy in five years, aiming to preserve U.S. technological superiority by protecting budgets for long-term research and development while enhancing cybersecurity.

“We want to identify the weapons, in the systems in the force today, that we can use in more innovative ways, and we’re looking for these promising technologies that we can pull forward,” Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work told a Pentagon press conference Thursday. The goal is to reverse “a steady erosion of our technological superiority that we have relied upon for so long in all of our defense strategies.”

Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, in releasing a memo to top management outlining Better Buying Power 3.0, said that flat budgets and sequestration have required the department to raid modernization dollars to pay for readiness. “Our technological superiority is dependent on the effectiveness of our research and development efforts that span science and technology, component development, early prototyping, full-scale development, and technology insertion into fielded products,” Kendall wrote.

Though innovation in Pentagon R&D comes from government laboratories, nonprofits and defense companies, “increasingly, it also comes from the commercial sector and from overseas,” he wrote. “Our ability to identify and utilize sources of innovation and technology effectively rests on the professionalism of our workforce.”

The overall strategy to better protect classified and other internal information from cyberattacks involves integrating efforts from acquisition, law enforcement, counterintelligence, and intelligence communities, as well as closer ties and monitoring to capitalize on private sector innovation, he added. Future technological tools will include robotics, autonomous guidance systems, visualization, big data, biotechnology, micro-miniaturization and advanced computing.