Lawmakers in the U.S. Senate passed the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act today, reauthorizing the U.S. military's programs and funding alongside reforms for the Department of Defense.
The measure included several amendments and provisions that will greatly benefit Hill Air Force Base in Utah, our service members, and America’s national security. Senator Orrin G. Hatch, the senior Republican in the Senate, authored two of the amendments that provide solutions for a longstanding problem faced by our armed forces.
“The Senate has taken important steps in passing a bill on a bipartisan basis that provides for our active duty military and their families, our wounded warriors, and our veterans while simultaneously reforming flawed and wasteful programs,” Senator Hatch said. “Even more encouraging is passage of my amendments that direct the Department to develop a sustainment strategy for our weapon systems to ensure effective and efficient operations impacting our nation’s depots, including Utah’s Hill Air Force Base. Our current sustainment efforts have proven far too uncoordinated and expensive due to a lack of proper planning on how to sustain this equipment over time. To drive down costs, the Department of Defense needs a comprehensive strategy to sustain these systems from the onset of acquisition far into the future, and these amendments help with that effort.”
Hatch Amendment 1811 addresses the Department of Defense’s lack of consideration of sustainment in the development and acquisition process for weapon systems. Sustaining and maintaining increasingly complex pieces of equipment accounts for over 80 percent of the lifetime cost of a weapon system. Much of the work at Hill Air Force Base is devoted to sustaining the Air Force’s fighter and Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) fleets, multiple commodities, and software for numerous systems. Troublingly, comprehensive sustainment plans and the incorporation of designs that reduce maintenance time and costs have not been given priority in the initial planning and design of today’s weapon systems. Senator Hatch’s amendment restructures the Department’s sustainment approach in order to save taxpayers billions of dollars in the long term.
Hatch Amendment 1911 addresses deficiencies with the Defense Department’s software sustainment efforts. The importance of software has only grown as our military’s weapon systems have become more advanced. As this complexity has grown, the Department’s policies and prioritization of software maintenance and sustainment have failed to keep pace. The Department only addressed corrective maintenance with its original definition of software maintenance; however, sustaining mission-capable weapon systems requires a definition that also includes preventive, adaptive, perfective, and system-integration maintenance. Current Department policy misses vital aspects of software design, systems integration, proprietary rights, and management needs. Senator Hatch’s amendment will task the Department to perform a review of its entire software policy.