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Carter: Lack of Competition in Bid Process

Ashton Carter, DoD
Ashton Carter, DoD

In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday, the Defense Department’s acquisitions chief Ashton Carter sketched out the details of his plan to restructure acquisitions, including increasing competition on contract bids.

“Competition is the single, most powerful tool to drive productivity,” said Carter, who serves as undersecretary of defense for acquisitions, technology and logistics. “We must stop deluding ourselves that two bids is real competition.”

Carter said that last year, $55 billion in contracts received only a single bid, most often by the incumbent contractor.

The plan to reform the acquisitions process is part of Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ overall strategy of trimming $100 billion from the more than $700 billion Pentagon’s budget.

Contracted goods and services, which fall under Carter’s purview, make up $400 billion in annual expenditures.

“We have to fundamentally change how we do business,” Carter said, adding that his plans included elements of “productivity growth,” or doing more with less.

Carter said there were already success stories in his campaign to reign in acquisitions, noting the lowered costs of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and other weapons systems either through redesigns, or switching to multiyear contracts.

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