Sequestration Delay?

By Christopher J. Castelli / September 20, 2012 at 2:26 PM

Echoing comments made yesterday on Capitol Hill by Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said this morning that delaying sequestration would be preferable to permitting its implementation.

Kendall said Wednesday that he remains hopeful that Congress will be able to solve the nation's debt problems, not merely delay sequestration. But if all a lame-duck Congress can accomplish is a delay sequestration that gives the next Congress the ability to address the problem, that would clearly be better than allowing sequestration to be implemented, Kendall told lawmakers, contractors and reporters in remarks on Capitol Hill.

Speaking at the Newseum today, for an event organized by Politico, Carter agreed.

Carter also reiterated his concerns about export-control reform, which he voiced yesterday at an Air Force Association conference.

From our story on his Wednesday remarks:

"I think that starting with Secretary Gates, and really Secretary Clinton, President Obama, Secretary Panetta, all the senior leadership, myself also, are frustrated with the outdated nature, I guess you would say, of the export control system and with the way it is designed, which has so many hands in the pot that it takes an extraordinary collective and simultaneous act to get anything done," Carter said. "That is annoying and impairing, and we are under pretty clear instructions -- and have been for the last three years -- in the department to clean up our act."

Over that time, he added, DOD, State and Commerce have made progress in streamlining their approval processes and simplifying export control. But Carter made clear that improving the system in a larger way requires legislation from Congress.

"Where I cannot give you much optimism at the moment is elsewhere," Carter said. "I think we're all fine -- the Commerce Department, the State Department, and the Defense Department are aligned in our general reviews, but then there's the Congress, which has views of its own, so this is just something we have to keep handling.

"I'm dogged and Secretary Panetta is pretty dogged within the walls of the Department of Defense that we can do it and have done a lot there," he continued. "It's a lot harder when you get outside, and it turns into missionary work for us and not something we can direct and manage in the way that we can inside the building."