The Senate confirmed Heidi Shyu to be the Army’s top weapons buyer after a senator stopped stalling a vote on her nomination because of concerns about a Russian arms firm.
Shyu, who has been working as the acting assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics, and technology since June of 2011, now is cleared to serve the role in a formal capacity. The Senate approved Shyu’s and a slew of other confirmations in a late session that extended last Friday night into early Saturday morning, before senators left Washington until after the Nov. 6 elections.
Shyu wears many hats in her now-official post, serving as the Army acquisition executive, senior procurement executive, science adviser to the Army secretary, and the service’s senior research and development official. She further is principally responsible for all Army matters related to logistics, according to the service.
She previous worked as the vice president of technology strategy for Raytheon‘s [RTN] Space and Airborne Systems division.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) had placed a hold on Shyu’s confirmation vote because he was upset about the Army’s dealings with Rosoboronexport, a Russian state-controlled exporting company.
“Sen. Cornyn lifted the hold last week because (Defense) Sec. (Leon) Panetta agreed to his requests regarding a competitive bidding process and a formal audit of the Army’s sole-source contract with Rosoboronexport,” Cornyn spokesman Scott Gosnell said via e-mail.
Multiple lawmakers have called on the Pentagon to cease working with Rosoboronexport, which has supplied arms that the Syrian government has turned on its own civilians. The Pentagon has bought Mi-17 helicopters for the Afghan Security Forces through a non-competitive contract from the controversial company.
But the Pentagon now has a plan to stop working with Rosoboronexport, and “condemns” its actions in supply arms and ammunition to the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, a Pentagon official told Cornyn in a Sept. 20 letter.
Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall in the letter described a “roadmap” the Pentagon has with the “objective of eventually eliminating the need to procure equipment through Rosoboronexport.”
He said the Pentagon will issue a request for information (RFI) to all defense companies asking them to describe how they could provide NATO and U.S. officials in Afghanistan with the 30 additional Mi-17s they want.
Kendall said responses to the RFI will help the Pentagon know if it can buy the Mi-17s through a full and open competition, as Cornyn wants. The Pentagon also will consider conducting an industry competition for a service-life extension of the existing aircraft, he said.
Also, as Cornyn requested, the Pentagon’s Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) will audit the Army’s sole-source contract with Rosoboronexport, Kendall said. He noted the Office of the Secretary of Defense recently completed a review of the firm.
“The DCAA audit will examine the effect that the sole source negotiations had on the terms and conditions and price that the government obtained,” Kendall wrote. “It will make every effort to obtain the necessary pricing information, though doing so may be a challenge as a result of the inherent lack of cost and pricing data involved in acquiring military equipment from Russian entities.”