Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 1, 2014

Posts in "Procurement"

August 18, 2014

Defense Philanthropy, Ukraine Vs. Russia in the Week Ahead

This is the slowest week event-wise of the August congressional recess so far, at least as it pertains to defense and national security. There are, however, a few items of note. Full story

August 15, 2014

Defense Industry Donations and the Alan Grayson Police Militarization Amendment

453575526 445x307 Defense Industry Donations and the Alan Grayson Police Militarization Amendment

A police officer watches over demonstrators protesting the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown on Aug. 13 in Ferguson. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

With images of heavily armed police confronting protesters in Ferguson, Mo., sparking a national debate about police militarization, a campaign finance research organization has released a study showing how much defense industry money House members got before a June 19 vote that rejected Rep. Alan Grayson’s amendment to block military equipment transfers to local law enforcement. The organization, MapLight, found that those who voted against it got 73 percent more in defense industry donations than those who voted in favor.

But there are probably bigger reasons for the vote going the way it did. And the issue could come up again in Congress — Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., promised Friday to review the program before his committee’s fiscal 2015 defense policy bill comes to the floor; Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., has put forward new legislation; and others are calling for hearings. So it’s worth reviewing the motivations for those votes.

Full story

August 13, 2014

Where National Security Is (and Mainly, Isn’t) in 2014 Elections

IA POL14 063 080714 445x296 Where National Security Is (and Mainly, Isnt) in 2014 Elections

Braley helps out on the grill in the Pork Tent at the 2014 Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Aug. 7. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

When Iraq popped up this week as an issue in the Iowa Senate race between Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley and Republican Joni Ernst based on her comments about troop levels in recent years, it marked something rare: an occasion where a national security debate surfaced in the 2014 elections for purely national security reasons.

Despite a whole host of places around the globe where security is a rising topic in the news — Iraq, Syria, Gaza, Russia — defense and foreign policy has largely been on the sidelines in congressional races. Even when it has been debated, it has usually been  for other reasons, such as how it reflects on President Barack Obama’s performance. But because of that, and more, national security could still play a role in the 2014 elections.

Full story

August 4, 2014

Defense Contracts, Gaza in the Week Ahead

The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit is underway, as discussed last week. Here is the full schedule of that, and a brief preview on the security angle. For some other events this week, read on.

Programming note: Even during the August congressional recess, we’ll still be posting here at Five By Five, just maybe less each day than usual. Don’t let that stop you from visiting frequently. Full story

August 1, 2014

DARPA Wants to Chop Military Materials Development Time From 10 to 2.5 Years

Say you’re trying to design a hypersonic plane. It will have to deal with shell temperatures of several thousands of degrees of steel-melting heat.

That’s where the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency plans to start — with an “outer aerodynamic shell for a hypersonic vehicle that would glide through the atmosphere” — in testing a new development concept for speeding up the deployment of new military materials into the field. Full story

July 30, 2014

GAO: Littoral Combat Ship Too Fat

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The littoral combat ship USS Freedom, LCS 1, departs San Diego Bay for deployment to the Asia-Pacific region last year in San Diego, Calif. (Christine Walker-Singh/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)

Moving from the construction phase into testing, it turns out the littoral combat ship has gotten too heavy, and that has slowed it down, according to the Government Accountability Office. Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 2:24 p.m.
Navy, Procurement

July 23, 2014

DARPA Humanoid Robot Plan Going Too Well, Apparently

6jBFt 445x295 DARPA Humanoid Robot Plan Going Too Well, Apparently

Team ViGIR’s humanoid robot entry for DARPA. (via @darpa on Twitter, July 23)

Apparently the DARPA competition to build a humanoid robot is going so swimmingly that the Defense Department’s advanced research wing is pushing back the schedule — not the usual reason for a missed deadline at the Pentagon. Full story

July 18, 2014

Russian RD-180 Not the Only Rocket Worry on Capitol Hill

Concerns over the Defense Department’s reliance on the Russian RD-180 rocket engine are just one aspect of the Senate’s worries about foreign-supplied rocket propulsion methods and instances where the Pentagon is counting on one vendor. In a report on the fiscal 2015 defense spending bill the Appropriations Committee approved Thursday, the panel expresses dismay about the overall state of the United States’ ability to produce rocket motors and the department’s tendency to award sole-source contracts. Full story

July 11, 2014

Official Says Pentagon Wants Satellite Launch Competition; Lawmakers Unsure

The Pentagon’s acquisition boss took some guff at a House hearing over a massive satellite launch contract that has prompted a lawsuit by a company that thinks it got shoved aside unfairly. Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 9:58 a.m.
Air Force, Procurement

July 10, 2014

F-35 Fire Looks Like a One-Off So Far, Pentagon Official Says

There’s an ongoing evaluation to get to the bottom of a June F-35 engine fire, but a top Pentagon official said Thursday that “There’s a growing body of evidence this may have been an individual situation, not a systemic one.” Full story

Some ‘Told You So,’ Some Uncertainty on the F-35

451312505 2 445x316 Some Told You So, Some Uncertainty on the F 35

This picture taken Oct. 28, 2013, shows a model of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II during a press day of the Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition in Goyang. (Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images)

A mysterious F-35 engine fire, the grounding of the fleet, a visit from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel scheduled for Thursday and the resulting possible pullback from an international debut at a British air show have put the Joint Strike Fighter — the most expensive weapon system ever — in the, well, hot seat. Full story

July 9, 2014

Pentagon Claims Low Flubbed Payment Rate, Could Be Totally Wrong

The good news for the Department of Defense: By its own estimation, less than 1 percent of its payments are improper payments (to the wrong party, or of the wrong amount), which is better than the more than 3 percent rate government-wide, with improper payments by the feds adding up to $106 billion in the past fiscal year.

The bad news for the department: The Government Accountability Office “has grave reservations even about DOD’s ability to track and accurately report its improper payments,” John L. Mica, R-Fla., said at a House subcommittee hearing Wednesday. Full story

July 8, 2014

Afghanistan Embassy Construction Price Grows by Nearly 25 Percent, Audit Discovers

171517294 2 445x301 Afghanistan Embassy Construction Price Grows by Nearly 25 Percent, Audit Discovers

Afghan policemen keep watch at a check post near the U.S. Embassy in Kabul on June, 26. 2013. (Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images)

Since the State Department awarded contracts to expand the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, the price has grown 24 percent and is running two years behind schedule, according to the Government Accountability Office. Full story

How the Defense Industry Might Become More Like the Automobile Industry

495261817 2 445x296 How the Defense Industry Might Become More Like the Automobile Industry

LEIPZIG, Germany: The future of the defense industry? The new Honda Civic Type R Concept at the 2014 AMI Auto Show on May 30. (Jens Schlueter/Getty Images)

William J. Lynn III, the former No. 2 man at the Defense Department, compares the state of the defense industry to the car business from the late 1970s to the early 1980s. “It was basically unpatriotic to drive a European or an Asian car,” he said Tuesday. “Look what’s happened now. Of the top 10 most American-made cars now, five have foreign name plates.” Full story

More Spare Parts Overbilling, Pentagon Watchdog Finds

Each instance is just nickels and dimes in a Defense Department budget of around half a trillion dollars, but it happens plenty: overcharges for spare parts. The latest example is potentially worth $9 million, per the Pentagon’s inspector general, and could be worth another $2.6 million over the next year. Full story

By Tim Starks Posted at 9:15 a.m.
Procurement

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