Big[ger] Chiefs?

By Tony Bertuca / July 26, 2011 at 2:42 PM

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee this morning for his confirmation hearing as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says he would be open to having a larger role for the service chiefs in acquisition matters.

“It would be impossible for me to justify the current process,” Dempsey told Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). “We absolutely have to seek acquisition reform.”

Dempsey said it would be “reasonable to consider a different role for the four service chiefs in acquisition.”

He noted that service chiefs now mostly concern themselves with the requirements process whereas service secretaries are more responsible for acquisition.

Dempsey's statement came after McCain once again cited the Decker-Wagner Army acquisition study, which states that the service has spent approximately $3.8 billion a year in canceled programs since 2004. McCain has cited the shocking statistic numerous times in Senate hearings. Inside the Army first broke the Decker-Wagner story in February.

Just last week, McCain suggested that service chiefs should have a larger role in acquisition. In the July 21 confirmation hearing of Gen. Raymond Odierno, who is slated to replace Dempsey as Army chief, McCain asked, “Doesn't it have to be one of your highest priorities of trying to get this procurement situation under control, and wouldn't it be helpful if we gave legislative authority to the service chiefs to be more involved in the whole acquisition process?”

Odierno requested more time to answer the question and said he would get back to McCain, but promised -- if confirmed -- to work closely with Army Secretary John McHugh.