27 Aug 15. The Pentagon’s chief arms buyer announced on Thursday he was revising his plan to increase oversight of weapons makers’ internal research and development projects that could be billed as overhead, after sharp criticism from industry executives.
Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, said he no longer planned to require companies to seek a “technical sponsor” before beginning an internal research program but would instead propose they be required to brief an appropriate defense official before and after such work.
Ellen Lord, president of Textron Systems, a unit of Textron Inc and other key industry executives had challenged the proposed rule, arguing that micromanaging internal company investments would be counter-productive.
“This should not constrain industry’s freedom in any way that current regulations and statute don’t already require, and it will have the benefit of ensuring more frequent and effective communication between industry and government,” Kendall said in prepared remarks for a conference in Rhode Island.
He added that his intent was never to impinge on companies’ freedom to make their own decisions about research programs.
“I appreciate the value to industry and (the Department of Defense) in allowing industry to place its own bets on technology that might increase a firm’s competitiveness,” he said.
A copy of his prepared remarks were released by his office.
The proposed change is part of the latest revision to a set of guidelines aimed at improving the way the department buys weapons and services.
Kendall, who often cites his concern that the U.S. military is losing its competitive edge in the face of recent gains by Russia and China, has also criticized industry for focusing too much on share buybacks instead investing in new technologies.
Kendall told reporters in late July he thought industry executives had overreacted a bit, and that he was not going to make any fundamental changes to the proposal. He said the goal was to ensure that the research work done – and billed as overhead – was technically meaningful. (Source: Reuters)
26 Aug 15. NASA: SpaceX not receiving special treatment in crash probe.
NASA is defending its probes into the crashes of two private rockets following suggestions by a key congressional lawmaker that the agency is showing favoritism to the aerospace company that built one of the rockets.
NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden Jr. said the accidents — one involving an Orbital Sciences Antares rocket that crashed in Virginia in October and the other involving a SpaceX rocket that crashed in Florida in June — are being investigated differently, but both are facing agency review.
He rejected suggestions by Republican Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, who chairs the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, that SpaceX is receiving preferential treatment.
NASA set up an independent accident review team following the Orbital mishap but allowed SpaceX to conduct its own probe into the June crash, Smith wrote to Bolden on Aug. 4. Smith also questioned why NASA’s only participation in the SpaceX accident consisted of including an agency representative on the company’s investigative team — in a non-voting capacity.
“The discrepancy between the approaches taken by NASA in response to these two similar events raises questions about not only the equity and fairness of NASA’s process for initiating independent accident investigations, but also the fidelity of investigations themselves,” Smith wrote.
Both rockets were carrying supplies to the International Space Station when they crashed shortly after liftoff. (Source: Defense News)
25 Aug 15. PLAN task group embarks on global deployment. The 20th Counter-Piracy Task Group of China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) handed over its role to the ships of the 21st Task Group on 23 August and has now embarked on a global deployment, according to the Chinese Ministry of Nat