7 April 2009 | Martha McKenzie-Minifie
US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has called for 9,000 more government acquisition professionals to be hired by 2015, as part of wide ranging plans to overhaul defence procurement.
Announcing key recommendations made to President Barack Obama ahead of the 2010 Defence Budget yesterday, Gates also called for the troubled project to replace the presidential Marine One helicopter fleet to be axed.
"This programme was originally designed to provide 23 helicopters to support the president, at a cost of $6.5 billion (£4.4 billion). Today, it is estimated to cost over $13 billion (£8.8 billion), has fallen six years behind schedule and runs the risk of not delivering the requested capability," said Gates in a news briefing in the US.
Obama had already denounced the scheme, describing it in February as a "procurement process gone amok".
Defence acquisition and contracting reform required dramatic change, said Gates. The workforce of 11,000 contractors should be converted to full-time government employees and be boosted by 9,000 more by 2015.
Programmes that exceeded budget significantly or bought more capability than the nation needed had to be stopped, he added.
More funding flexibility was required and processes needed to be streamlined