Lawmaker proposes restructuring funding through mission-based pilot

By Jaspreet Gill / July 28, 2021 at 12:37 PM

A lawmaker on the House Armed Services Committee is proposing a mission-based pilot program that would restructure funding so that it's tied to specific missions, instead of specific hardware.

Speaking at a virtual Hudson Institute event last week, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) said he wants to include this pilot in this year's defense policy bill.

"We can't just change what we buy, we also have to change how we buy it," Moulton said. "Software is going to win wars, so we need to change our buying habits. . . . And that means we have to have more flexible, quick funding that directly addresses the operational challenges our troops are facing . . . so that's why I'm working to establish what we're calling a mission-based pilot which would experiment with a new way of budgeting to fix these issues."

Instead of buying a single piece of hardware to address multiple missions over years and spending "billions of dollars fixing it, only deploying it decades after we wrote requirements for it," Moulton said the pilot would instead define an operational challenge troops are currently facing, assign funding to it and buy a flexible range of solutions that might help address it.

He added that's the approach China is taking, whereas "we just always buy gadgets."

"The F-35 is to me one of the best examples here," he said. "I mean, we've spent years and . . . billions of dollars developing the most expensive aircraft in world history to fight China and it can’t reach China. . . . What’s the point of buying one super-expensive piece of hardware to address a problem if it literally takes a year to get it out into the field?"

Moulton said he'd work with the Pentagon's Strategic Capabilities Office to develop the pilot.