Carter: DoD Needs to Improve ‘Fast Lane’ Contingency Contracting

Ashton Carter, DoD; Photo:

The Defense Department’s top acquisition chief testified before the Commission on Wartime Contracting yesterday, saying the Pentagon needs to create a “fast lane” for contingency acquisitions — the rapid procuring of weapons during wartime.

“We have to create a fast lane for contingency acquisitions,” Ashton Carter, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics said before the contracting panel created in 2008 to combat waste, fraud and abuse of wartime contracting. “We’re constantly hot-wiring and working around. That is not satisfactory. We need a better system.”

Failing to do so would mean not only “theft from the taxpayer,” but also “theft from those who put themselves in harm’s way to protect us,” he added.

Still, Carter said, “it’s fair to say we’ve not done contingency contracting as well as the taxpayer and the warfighter deserve.”

As part of further efforts to streamline the acquisition process, Carter said the department would use more rapid buys known as contingency contracting, DoD Buzz reported.

“As part of our war plans, as part of our staffing plans, as part of our training plans, we are building contingency operations into them at all levels, from commanders all the way down,” Carter said.

Meanwhile, he also came out against the commission’s recommendation that the Defense Department automatically suspend indicted contractors.

“There is a potential unintended consequence of turning suspensions and debarments from tools to protect the government’s interest into tools that automatically punish contractors,” he said, according to a Government Executive report. “Such an approach may have a chilling effect on contractor cooperation in identifying and fixing real problems, including those that affect the health and safety of our personnel.”

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