Defense acquisition chief Frank Kendall is set to roll out a draft of his Better Buying Power 3.0 later this month–tentatively on Sept. 12–to outline how the Defense Department and industry can bring better technologies to the warfighter in a more efficient manner.

Speaking at ComDef 2014, Kendall said that if BBP 1.0 was about rules and business practices and BBP 2.0 was about critical thinking in contracting, then BBP 3.0 “is going to get us back to our products and what we’re actually trying to deliver to the warfighters. It’s going to be about innovation, it’s going to be about technical excellence, it’s going to be about technology speed to market.”

Frank Kendall, Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. Photo: DoD.
Frank Kendall, Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. Photo: DoD.

In tandem with the rollout of BBP 3.0, Kendall’s office will embark on a long-term planning effort as part of Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work’s Technology Offset Strategy.

“The idea here is that instead of just doing evolutionary improvements of the programs that you have … [Work] said look for things that are going to make a significant difference in terms of the ability to wage conventional warfare,” Kendall said. He will identify opportunities for game-changing technologies and ensure that research and development funding is directed to these projects for maximum benefit to the Defense Department.

An example of where the Technology Offset Strategy and BBP 3.0 converge is with industry’s Internal Research and Development money. Government-funded research and development funding has dropped from a peak of $80 billion a year to about $60 billion a year, Kendall said, making industry’s $4 billion a year in IRAD even more important. Kendall said that just this week he began looking at where one company has invested in future technologies to “make sure we’re getting as much return, both for industry and for government, out of that pot of money as we can.”

“As a technologist, I’m interested in what bets people are making, where they think the payoffs are,” he said, adding he also wants to see if companies are investing in near-, mid- or long-term bets and in which technology areas.

Under BBP 1.0 and 2.0, Kendall tried to create a better exchange of information between government and industry on research priorities. With BBP 3.0, he will attempt to characterize what government and industry are actually gaining from the decisions they’ve made. After looking at IRAD, he will also examine the $10 billion DoD spends in basic technologies, $3 billion for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency funding and $30 billion for government labs to see what exactly is being gained for that spending.