Defense Department unveils newest acquisition initiative

Better Buying Power 3.0 calls for renewed focus on innovation and dominant capabilities.

The Defense Department’s Better Buying Power initiative is going through its third iteration as the Pentagon continues to seek more efficient acquisition principles, all while encouraging innovation and technical excellence.

Frank Kendall, under secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, released a draft of Better Buying Power 3.0 last Friday at an event held at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, according to a DOD release. A final draft of the document is planned for January.

“We’ll go through a two- or three-month period of collecting comments from a wide variety of stakeholders and we’ll adjust this and we’ll finalize it,” Kendall said, as reported by C4ISR & Networks. “And in about January, we'll put out a final version with implementing instructions.”

The BBP is a part of the Defense Department’s efficiency initiative, and seeks to provide better value in terms of taxpayer dollars and improve the acquisitions process.

Released in 2010, BBP 1.0 outlined the objectives of the BBP and highlighted best practices, according to the release. The 2012 BBP 2.0 added a new set of initiatives and emphasizes the development of improved decision making tools and critical thinking skills.

The draft version of BBP 3.0 now adds a focus on encouraging innovation and promoting technical excellence to tackle emerging national security issues as DOD continues to rely on Cold War-era technologies.

“Underpinning BBP 3.0 is the growing concern that the United States’ technological superiority over potential adversaries is being threatened today in a way that we have not seen for decades,” the white paper states. “Our military today depends on a suite of dominant capabilities that originated in the ‘70s and ‘80s, has been enhanced and upgraded since, but has not fundamentally changed. “

“Our technological superiority is not assured, and in fact it is being challenged very effectively right now,” it adds.

To improve the Defense Department’s acquisitions, BBP 3.0 has several focus areas, many of which remain unchanged from BBP 2.0. Those initiatives are to:

  • Achieve affordable programs
  • Achieve dominant capabilities while controlling lifecycle costs
  • Incentivize productivity in industry and government
  • Incentivize innovation in industry and government
  • Eliminate unproductive processes and bureaucracy
  • Promote effective competition
  • Improve tradecraft in acquisition of services
  • Improve the professionalism of the total acquisition workforce.

In terms of industry, BBP 3.0 seeks to increase the appropriate use of incentive-type contracts, which have indicated a higher correlation with cost and schedule performance. Meanwhile, DOD will allow the military services to build Superior Supplier Incentive Programs similar to the Navy’s. Those would be implemented in the next couple of months.

BBP 3.0 also will continue to see the use of performance-based logistics and the investigation of ways to continue improving the productivity of Independent Research and Development and Contracted Research and Development. Another initiative will also look internationally for cooperative research and development for improved warfighter products.

The white paper notes that BBP 3.0 does not replace the first two versions of the initiative. Instead, 3.0 would continue building on early initiatives while modifying the focus.

“[BBP 3.0] shifts our emphasis slightly toward the products we produce for our customers: the warfighters who depend on us to give them dominant capabilities on the battlefields of the future,” writes Kendall in the white paper.