NDIA Chairman Arnold Punaro Announces NDIA Lead For Acquisition Reform Initiative

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Retired Maj. General Arnold Punaro, Chairman of the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), announced that NDIA has recruited Jon Etherton as a senior fellow to lead its 2014 acquisition reform initiative. Punaro called Etherton “one of the top experts on acquisition law and regulation” and highlighted his successful record in leading teams in similar acquisition reform efforts over a career spanning three decades.

Retired Maj. General Arnold Punaro, Board Chairman of the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), announced today that NDIA has added Jon Etherton, President of Etherton and Associates, as a senior fellow to lead NDIA’s 2014 acquisition reform initiative. Started in late 2013 within NDIA’s Procurement Division, NDIA organized to provide input to the efforts within the Department of Defense, led by Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, Frank Kendall, and in the Congress, led by Vice Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Mac Thornberry.

“Jon is one of the handful of true experts on the acquisition process, laws and regulations,” said Punaro. “He’s worked on these issues longer than almost anyone, and he knows the pros and cons of the current system in greater detail than anyone. Associations and businesses have been calling on Jon’s expertise since he left the Senate Armed Services Committee staff. His body of work at the Aerospace Industries Association shows that he knows how to navigate the association landscape with major success. We at NDIA are pleased to have Jon leading this extremely important and timely undertaking.”

Etherton’s resume includes 18 years as a Senate staffer, with 14 of those years working acquisition issues as a professional staff member on the Senate Armed Services Committee. After leaving the Senate, Etherton joined the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), first as Assistant Vice President, then becoming Vice President for Legislative Affairs specializing in acquisition. Since leaving AIA in 2006, Etherton has owned and managed his own acquisition-focused consultancy and advocacy firm. He often provides expert briefings to industry and other groups in the acquisition community and was called upon by the House Armed Services Committee to provide expert testimony as part of Rep. Thornberry’s acquisition review this year.

“I am really excited to join NDIA as a senior fellow focused on acquisition. NDIA’s unique status as the only defense association that represents all sectors and tiers of defense industry makes it well-suited to offer views on acquisition reform that do not reflect the views of just one size of defense contractor or contractors from a single equipment sector,” Etherton said. “That unique positioning, combined with more energy devoted to acquisition reform both in the Congress and in the Pentagon than we have seen in years, adds up to a great opportunity to meaningfully improve how the government acquires goods and services. The need could not be more pressing, and I am glad we have energetic partners on both sides of the Potomac ready to work with industry to tackle the problem.”

Etherton explained NDIA is organized to respond to a solicitation for input from the House and Senate Armed Services Committees as well as the Pentagon and will involve consultation with NDIA’s member base of around 1,600 companies. He plans to leverage NDIA’s cross-cutting divisions and committees comprised of corporate members to validate specific, actionable proposals for both legislators and regulators. Rather than spend a great deal of time identifying the problem, Etherton explained that he will leverage the numerous studies over the decades, including Punaro’s study in 2012 for the Defense Business Board. With a set of identified problems in hand distilled from numerous studies and task forces, Etherton will then work with NDIA’s members to identify the factors leading to those problems, whether and how those factors can be changed, and who has the authority to change them. NDIA will then recommend discrete and clear actions to take to fix the problems, and describe anticipated outcomes.

“It is really fruitless to spend time worrying about political or structural factors we cannot change. We need to focus on what is within the realm of the possible, identify who has the authority to make needed changes, and suggest to them what specific changes to make, how to make them, and the outcomes we predict could occur,” explained Etherton. “It is deceptively easy to describe, but is hard in practice, which is why we have only partially succeeded in the past. NDIA will work with Congress and the Pentagon to bring about a different outcome this time,” he said.

About NDIA: The National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) is America’s leading Defense Industry association promoting national security. NDIA provides a legal and ethical forum for the exchange of information between Industry and Government on National Security issues. NDIA members foster the development of the most innovative and superior equipment, training and support for warfighters and first responders through our divisions, local chapters, affiliated associations and events.

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