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tv   Politics and Public Policy Today  CSPAN  April 27, 2016 9:00am-10:01am EDT

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and i just don't understand why that would be the case. they're doing many of the things that would be required to do. >> let me go on -- yesterday it was announced that we were spending -- we are sending 250 special operations forces to syria. i understand the cost is approximately 1 million to 1.5 million to train. one special operator equaling roughly 375 million for the 250. general, you indicated recently f 35 costs 108 per million per aircraft. i know it's going to come down to 85 you're hoping by 2019. if we trade in ten jets, just ten, we could increase the size of our special forces community by over 650. now, this is after general came
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here and said that we're about 220,000 short of in strength ground troops. we're looking for ways to make sure we can meet the threats that we have. the f 35th pilots helmet alone cost 400,000. that's ten million dollars for 2,500. as we look at the cost associated with it, we're facing and how most of it is ground dlet that is we're facing and forcing and fighting, does it make since to spend so much money on f 35 why we spend so much on our special forces around the world. >> since we have to make choices. >> general, what i will tell you is that the department has many different kind of choices that they have to make and try and balance their requirements with the resources that they have. i will tell you that the f 35 is a long-term investment in defense of this nation and, our
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future adversary ris are not sitting still and in the next, 10, 20, 30 years we may very well need the capabilities that the f 35 will provide us to maintain our leadership and the world. so i consider the f 35 as an investment in the future. >> and i appreciate that. and my time is up. i'm saying we have 2,500 scheduled to be built, correct. is that the number. >> the u.s. services are 2,433, sir. >> so just for ten less aircraft we could put 650 special ops people on the front line right now. >> if your math is right, sir. >> thank you, sir. >> in your prepared testimony, you state that cyber security deficiencies revealed deficiencies and full testing of the logistics information system
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has not been permitted. can you give us an overview of the plan cyber security tests and whether based on the deficiencies discovered so far you believe the testing will be adequate. >> if we execute the plan that my office has been working on with the joint operational test team and the program office over the next couple of years, that will be a very thorough rigorous set of cyber security tests, problems that we're running into, as you mentioned, are that the program is reluctant to let us tests on the live systems for fear that we might damage them and they had not made provisions for back up if the systems went down,le though they're working on that now. so up to this point and in the immediate future, we will have to test on surrogate systems and laboratory systems. front office is making that available to us, and that's
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certainly better if we're doing all testing and we're learning from that, as is mentioned in my annual report and in my statement. but we need to do much more than that. we need to test on the live systems. we're also going to have to find a way to do some cyber security system assessment of lockheed systems, information systems because alice is plugged in to lockheed corporate network. and we're working through all of those issues. >> what i will tell you, today alice our logistics information system is operating on the d.o.d. networks. and in order for me to be allowed to put the system on the
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d.o.d. networks it has gone through over the last three to four years, vigorous cyber security testing and certification from agencies out to the nsa and dia. so the idea that the system today is somehow untested, is not an accurate statement, however, having said that, dr. gilmore is correct. i was hesitant last year to give the operational test community the authority to test and to end the operational system because we didn't have redundancy in part of the system. and if the testing were to knock off that part of the system, i didn't have a backup. we're building that back up today and as soon as that back up is in place, we will give the operational test community full authority to test the system as it operates in the field today, and that should happen before the end of the year. >> when do you -- before the end of the year. >> before the end of the year. >> i would like to comment,
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senator, that we do operational testing as an integral part, or cyber security testing of systems that have been through certifications and nsa certifications and we get into them every time. so i am not arguing against those certifications, which are specification based kind of assessments. they are certainly necessary, but they're hardly sufficient. and commercial organizations such as microsoft have said in their -- the advice they provide to their customers, assume that you have been penetrated and do continual red teaming, which is what we do in our operational tests. so the certifications that the general talks about are certainly necessary, but they're hardly sufficient. >> and mr. secretary, over all, what are the lessons learned from this process? what are we applying to other acquisitions and how is cyber
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security going to be included in the requirements' process, basically, what are we -- what are we doing to integrate requirements for cyber security into the whole acquisitions process. >> cyber security is both e ubiqitis and problem. you have to take cyber security account into every phase and every aspect of it. the department is maturing in this area, but i think -- we still have a long ways to go. some of our systems are in the field, were not designed with cyber security in mind. we have to go back and assist those. and all of our systems like the f 35 that are in development, we have to integrate it into the design process as we go, as well as into all of our business practices. it is a preva -- preva zif
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threat. you want it to connect to the internet so you can order parts and so on. so we are working this problem very very hard. it is not going to be cheap to fix it and it is not going to be quick to fix it, but we have to do something. >> thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you. i know that senator donnelly asked about lessons learned from f 35 program and what we might take forward in the other programs, given that some of the challenges that this program go back to some members high school years. and i think we only got through mr. sullivan and dr. gilmore, though. i would like to hear the answer to that question from secretary kendall and the general.
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>> it starts with reasonable requirements. you have to have professional management. you have to have adequate resources. you have to have a system that basically will support people doing the right thing. in our system, as i think others mentioned, there is a very strong bias that's sort of built into our structure towards optimism. it's easier to get a program funded if it costs less. people want it faster, cheaper, they want it to be able to do more. most of the problems i've seen in acquisition stem from being in a hurry and being convinced, for whatever reason, that things will be cheaper, better, faster than they will actually be, than they would be. my office was formed 1986 because this problem was so preva zif. i think we've had a mixed record of success. the things that i hope i've done
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over the last several years is to put more realism and more -- to structure programs with more highly likely who will success. a lot of the things that we'll do are complicated and difficult. development is apparently very risky. when you create something that's never been created before and you do it with cutting edge technology, that's a process that has unknown to it. no matter how much production you do ahead of time. i think support for some management, ensuring that professionals are in place, resisting the tenancy to spend the money because it's in your budget and you're afraid you'll lose it, if you don't spend it, which i think is exactly what will happen, something that has to be reinforced throughout the chain of command starting with the secretary of defense. >> thank you, senator. i won't elaborate the concurrence si and optimism piece. i'll give you two other things, sir. when you set up a large
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acquisition program like this, you must ensure that the risks between industry and government is balanced appropriately. if the risk is all on the government or if the risk is all on industry, you will get bad behaviors from both sides. so it's very very important to make sure you have the incentive structures right and the risk balanced appropriately between the government and industry. we did not get that right at the early part of the f 35 program. mr. kendall, under his leadership, i have been trying to do that for a number of years now and it has proven to be helpful. the second thing i will tell you that people do not talk about much is leadership continuity. if you have a very large program and very complex like the f 35, it will do you no good to put leaders in place that are there for only two or three years. it takes them a year just to understand what's going on. i will tell you our bigger acquisition programs need stable leadership at the top for many many years to help.
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>> are you talking about uniformed leadership or severe leadership. >> either one, sir, government supremes and military personnel are both very capable acquisition leaders you've got to leave them there in place for enough time to make a difference. >> to the exaccident r tent, it's uniform leadership. is that acquisition challenge or personnel challenge. >> it is both, sir. it is absolutely both. how do you provide the incentives for military person to continue moving up in rank if you leave him in a job for five or six years. that's sometimes what's necessary for very big complex acquisition programs. >> i've heard from some of our partners overseas and i don't mean just partners in the joint strike fighter, but the security partners generally when talking about acquiring certain weapon systems because of their small compared to the united states, they worry about being a playing with the country rather than a country with a plane. what's the risks that some of the partners in this program face in terms of the cost of this aircraft and the ability to
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acquire -- the number of aircraft needed to contribute meaningfully to the program. i mean, how many joint strike fighters need a country acquired to have a meaningful contribution to their defense? >> that's an interesting question, senator. and i think it really goes to what each country cares about in terms of its resources and what they care to defend. what i will tell you is, even our smallest nations on the f 35 program are looking at at least -- two squadrons of f 35s. and the idea that the partnership will be working together to sustain, maintain and train the airplanes is a huge deal for them because otherwise they could not afford a fifth generation capability like they are today. >> thank you.
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>> at -- at this time it's not sufficiently mature. there are a number of improvements that are planned as the program moves forward to what's called 3.0, the fully capable version that's meant to be available for operational testing and full operational capability. and if those improvements are realized they will address the number of issues that are mentioned in my testimony. in order to keep aircraft flying. there's a heavy reliance on having contractors present,
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again, when we move forward to 3.0, the plan is. >> lieutenant general, can you comment on dr. gilmer's assertion that with the current number of aircraft planned for testing use and 80% aircraft availability rate is needed to officially accomplish the integrated complicated test and evaluation unscheduled, what would you assess as the current aircraft availability rate and does the jpo current protections estimate that the ability rate will be up to 80% by the time it's scheduled to start.
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it seems as though right now you're not making that and yet you'll have more challenges between now and then to meet that to meet the deadlines you've laid out. doesn't appear as though it's possible. can you comment on that and give us your thoughts, please. >> i'm not sure where the 80% comes from, but i think if you take the number. >> if you have the number of aircraft, put the number of hours and test you've got to do. >> to finish. >> you haven't done that yet. >> to finish iot we meet within a year. i do not believe we'll buy the team starts to get anywre near 80%. today the fleet is hovering around 60%. the best we've seen so far is the u.s. air force, airplanes at the air force base when they deploy this winter.
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i will tell you it is unlikely we will get to 80%. what that means is, iot may take longer than we anticipated and that will be the major result of that. . as i look back at the information that's been provided for us, if you compare the two aircraft today, the time on stations, hour to hour and a half, f 35 b and this is, from what i can see, the planned.
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>> which suggest that we're also going to need additional capabilities just to service them close by those areas on the gun itself, the f 35 and this is the way it was designed in the first place, apparently. f 35 apparently wasn't designing with a gun in mind. a military cannon, 420 rounds total four second bursts. 1,100 go around, 17 seconds. and around is double the weight of that carried by the f 35, clearly when we talk about having the similar mission, we're talking about doing the job and completely different ways, would that be a fair assessment, dr. gilmer? >> when you're talking about it, it would look much differently than the a 10 and we're going to do those comparison tests of the ability to perform between the a 10 and f 35 as part of the
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operational testing. and we're not going to say that, you know, the f 35 has to perform tests the same way the 10 does but left the pilots take advantage on the systems of the aircraft deal with some implementations you mention as well as they can. and see how well the missions are carried out in terms of the ability to strike in a timely manner and accurately and report on that. and there are numerous arguments about how well each aircraft will do under certain different circumstances and dicht threats. and higher threat and environments. and so the comparison testing and our report will eliminate all of that. >> i just think secretary looks like he wants to response and give him an opportunity. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'm an army officer.
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it was purposely designed. and it was a very good design for that purpose. but if you asked to do air to air, it's hopeless. the f 35 is designed as aircraft that can do a variety of missions object to the form innocence strike. it does support differently. it does have the features you mentioned. but what's different now than what the time being, the ability of wide variety of aircraft to put ammunition like a small bomb exactly where they want it to go. and the air force today would be one bombers, for example, something that would not be possible. times have changed. if we could afford it, i think everybody would like to be the inventory because it's a special purpose aircraft for that one mission. given the constraints we have and the financial resources that we have, maintaining a one
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mission aircraft and the air force, which is not something they could fit into the balance we're trying to achieve. >> thank you. thank you. mr. chairman. >> on behalf of chairman mccain. >> thank you mr. chairman for calling this hearing and thanks to all of you, witnesses for your testimony today. you taught delegation as had the opportunity to witness firsthand the roll out of the f 35 and the air force as the 388th and the 419th fighter wings at hill air force base in og den, utah prepare to reach initial operating capacity or ioc later this year. we've also been able to see the development of logistics and maintenance functions of the f 35 a at the ogden air logistics complex that have been so effective that they've been called to assist both the marine corps and the navy and meeting the goals for their respective variance of the f 35 and we're very proud of them. the men and women who are working to train on tests and to
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keep these jets in the air are models of american ingenuity and i hope this congress will provide them with the resources that they very much need in order to continue succeeding in their mission. general, one of the main obstacles for the f 35 a reaching its ioc goals this year, of course, involves the continued development of -- which is, of course, used to manage the logistics and supply chain for maintaining the f 35, not just now during the roll out, but throughout its lifetime. can you tell me how is the joint program office working with industry to ensure that this capability is functional and is fully integrated into this weapon's platform in a timely
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and effective manner? >> thank you, senator. the system right now that the air force needs at hill air force base is on track to be about 60 days later that we planned and the biggest issue we have right now is getting the maintenance and supply chain and configuration management of the engine, the f 135 integrated into the system. that is proven to be more difficult than we had anticipated, but it kind of requires both lockheed martin and whitney's back end erp, enterprise resource planning systems to talk to each other and to connect with alice. we sent -- we've worked with lockheed partner across the whole company, as well as some of their teammates and we have brought in some software experts from within d.o.d. to try over the last few months to figure
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out where those difficulties lie. the good news there is we understand where the difficulties are, now we just have to go and execute and like i said, i think we're probably going to be about two months late getting that done, but i think we, from a technical standpoint, will be able to get it done. >> that's good to know. it's good any time you can at least contain a delay and look forward and conclude that you've got a known quantity. because of budget reductions and the ability to retire the 810. the air force is concerned about a potential shortfall of experienced uniform maintainers to transition to f 35 units and keep those weapons safe and to keep them functional. so general, has the air force been able to resolve this problem in the short term and what long-term complications do you see that might still exist for ensuring that a generation of maintainers is being trained to keep pace with the process of
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integrating the f 35 into the air force. >> yes, sir. in the short term, when the air force was faced last year with a shortage of maintainers for their ioc capability at hill air force base, they asked the program office to pop late an entire squadron at luke air force base with contractor logistic support personnel and we did that, the 60 second squaw drant at luke air force base today on the flight line is maintained with approximately 110 contractors as opposed to boost the maintainers, that gave the air force the flexibility to take those that would have been at luke air force base and transfer them to hill air force base from ioc. that is just a band-aid, though, and that is a short term fix. in the long-term, i believe the air force needs the ability to move maintainers around for the growing fleet of f 35s and we're committed to working with them to increase the put of
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maintainers through the schoolhouse and to work with our partners and to work with the garden of reserve in the air force who can provide some of that manpower. i'll defer to the air force on those solutions, sir. >> let me ask one more question as my time is expiring. can you tell me, did the department of fe debs original intend. they'll keep you fulfilled the department's needs as far as the air support goes, what's your assessment of how the services will be able to work together to meet close air support needs through integrated and joint operations. >> sir, what i will tell you is over time the evolution of the way we conduct closed air support in the department of defense has evolved. it is no longer a single airplane out there talking to a
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ground controller and dropping a single weapon. it's a much more integrated fight. it is much more reliant on multi platforms and multiple communication systems with both the ground and the air. given that. the f 35 in the future today and in the future will have capabilities to seemlessly integrate into that network with form close air support. >> thank you very much. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator lee, the chairman is on his way back from the second vote. i'm also told that senator blumenthal and senator haynes are coming from question. if i may take a short perhaps, just a few moments and we shall return. we'll stand in recess until the chairman returns, thank you.
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>> mr. gilmer, concerns that i have touched on this hearing is that the time this platform is expected to serve roughly 20 years from now, 30 plus years from the initial inception, i think back to any product that i may have bought it in 2004, i was originally thinking of senator grams flip phone. i wouldn't want to be flying that in 2040. are we building upgrade ability into this airplane so it can keep up with the times. in other words, is it designed with that in mind? >> that's the question to me, senator? >> yes, sir. >> well, i will defer the details to general bogden. this aircraft is going to be much more upgradeable than the f 22 was. but having said that, we've
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already identified -- a need for the upgrade from the current -- well, from the now being installed technically refresh two processor, which provides additional capability relative to the processors that are in the aircraft to this point. we've identified a need for an upgrade to that, technical refresh three processor. in this program moving from one processor to another is not nearly as argue use a problem in the f 22 where there was a lot of software that was developed, that was developed with features that were tied very specifically to the processors in order to maximize capability, but it's still not a trivial matter as has been demonstrated recently by the stability problems that have been resolved to technical refresh two processor.
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so upgrade ability is being built in, but that doesn't mean it's going to be trivial to execute. >> quickly, because i've got several other questions, what's your thought about, aren't we going to be able to upgrade this airplane so it's not going to be obsolete in 2025. >> i believe there's a few points i'll make. one is when we do replace the next version of the computer or the brains in the airplane, we're requiring open standards and module open system architecture, which will allow for incorporation of new sensors and new capabilities much easier. second, when we first originally designed the airplane, we knew many of our partners and customers would want to put unique weapons on the airplane, we've created a system that will alouse us to integrate multiple kind of weapons on the airplane, rather not trivial but in an easier way. so from both those perspectives i believe the airplane is adaptabili
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adaptable and growble. many capabilities inherit today make it special or software based. therefore, in the future as new capabilities come on like electronic war fair and attack, we'll be able to upgrade the software in an easier way than you would the hardware. >> i think where we're buying 40-year assets, b 21, on and on. mr. secretary kendall, was the attempt at jointness in this project a mistake in retrospect? >> it's a good question, senator. i think the honest answer is i'm not sure. i was present at the inception of f 35. started out as a technology part of program who was instituted by one of my predecessors when i was on the staff. we're now thinking about the aircraft for the navy and the air force and i don't think we're going to repeat this. i think that, first of all, i think the design parameters are
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going to be quite different for the two services. we did get some benefit from commonality, but there's very little commonality in the structure. i think we can still get some of the benefits without having to have a single program. i think -- >> you can get benefits in terms of common -- >> common systems and so on. so i think those could still be achieved without having a common program necessarily. i think you would have to make that decision, kind of as your plans for modernization and acquisition became more real and material as to whether or not it paid off or not. i think it's astonishing to me, frankly, that we have been able to keep this program together for so long. keep the three services fully committed and keep all of international partners fully committed. we have two on the fence right now. at this stage in the game everybody is still in. pulling all that off is not a small achievement.
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it's very hard to do. i think we have to think very carefully about that. the program more risk you have. and i don't know that the savings are necessarily worth that complex scene and the risk that goes with it. >> thank you. thank you. >> thank you mr. chairman. >> thanks mr. chairman. >> i thank you all for your being here today and for your insights on this very challenging program. it is as complex as it is critical to our national defense and we should expect on this committee and the american public should anticipate that a weapons platform of this complexity will also have bumps in the road in its development and research. i take it none of you will disagree with that basic proposition. despite that bumpy road at some point, the f 35, as a whole, has
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already made significant advancements in a number of areas and in particular the f 135 program provides truly a fifth generational capability to the fleet. every low rate, initial production, lrip contract, as i understand it, for the f 30, 135 has been on or below coast, recent announcement of the llip lots 9 and 10 will bring the price down another 3.4% from the lrip. to date the 135, f 135 conventional take off and landing engine costs has been reduced by 47% since the initial flight test engines. the engine cost has been reduced by 34% in the same time period. these are real achievements and in addition, as already
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identified technology impruchlt options that will increase the thrusts, durability that could save billions of dollars for this program. the f 135 is meeting the key fy 2020 milestones, again, my understanding or mission capability and engine reliability. for those facts that are accurately stated so far -- >> very accurate. >> thank you. >> all that said, i know that questions had been raised, general bogden, about the f 135 performance and i take it that from your testimony that quality quality has not been an issue so far as the pratt and whitney
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supplier performance has been concerned. >> two or three years ago i would have told you i was worried about that. ly tell you that pratt and whitney has done a good job of standing up equality organization within pratt and whitney military engines that has dug down deep into their supply chain and helped them improve that significantly. >> thank you. >> well their supply change is a lot of it based in connecticut and i can tell you from my experience in connecticut that our suppliers and manufacturers have recognized the challenge we face -- for this century, literally, this weapons platform will be critical to our national throughout this century. we can look back and draw lessons, and we should, from the challenges that cause that improvement to take place and maybe even the overall conceptual framework, as you suggested secretary kendall,
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should there have been more individualization of the platform for a different services that the services ought to get together and collaborate and buy a single flyer and that was the wisdom. i think there has to be a recognition that this weapons platfo
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platform if the f 35 doesn't succeed, we'll be in a pickle. >> would you agree, mr. sullivan? >> yes, i would. we we definitely need to have this moving forward, this is the fifth generation. >> thank you, thank you mr. chairman. >> let me say in summary, it's been a scandal and the cost over runs have been disgraceful and this committee and our authorization responsibilities will take whatever actions we can to prevent reoccurrence, should not take 15 years and still not have an aircraft ioc. with the cost over on without cost over run. i keep, but finally mr. sullivan do you think we have learned the
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lessons and taken sufficient methods to prevent a reoccurrence or do we need to do some more. >> i think there's always room to do more. i don't think we've learned all the lessons yet. but i would say that, if you go back five or six years from now or go back to say 2010, we're not seeing as many f 35s or, you know, these big programs with requirements that aren't achievable. i think we're learning some lessons that way. some of that could be because of bucket constraints. it is from the work that the congress has done and frankly i think the department has done a good job of trying to implementment and drive down into the culture some better practices. they talk about their better buying power initiatives. we've got a long way to go. there's still way too much cost. we're not using enough looking at requirements and incremental
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way. using open systems as snartd cane was talking about. there are a lot of things we can do to create more efficiencies. so i hope secretary kendall and take a look at how to structure that program. >> i hope you'll pay more attention to dr. gilmer's words given his responsibility to the department of defense as well as to the congress. i thank the witnesses and i believe that most of the take away from this is that we are making progress that we have
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challenges that lie ahead but there has been some significant improvements as opposed to some years ago, i think for their hard work and witnesses for their hard work and this hearing is adjourned.
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>> this year's white house correspondence dinner saturday. well andre cody is the executive chef here at the washington hilton.
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you have 2,600 plus people coming over for dinner, what it's like to prepare that. >> organized chaos at it's finest. it really is. it's an honor first and foremost, but it's also a lot of fun. it's an opportunity for us to really prepare unusual foods for a large amount of people. >> when you say unusual, what do you mean. >> well, we can't but once we do a taste test with white house correspondence dinner, the division usually is made that evening and then our work begins for the following year. >> and when do you do the taste test, at what point during the year. >> it's usually three months, roughly three months prior to the function itself. it depends on your schedule and my schedule, we always work it out. >> you have 23,000 square feet of kitchen here at the
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washington hilton, the largest in washington, d.c., largest kitchen in d.c. does it get crowded on the night of correspondents dinner? >> it gets very crowded. >> who is in here? >> well, well we have a lot of celebrities that walk through the back of the house. but at the same time we've got so many cooks and people working that evening, whether it be from management team or all the team members. you're looking at roughly 400 people that are here to assist on that evening. >> does that include servers. >> that includes servers. >> how many people are out on the floor. >> you've got about 200 servers on the floor and you've got -- certain amount of tables. >> and another 200 people back here in the back of the house. >> about that. about that.
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>> where were you that evening. >> running around. we were just talking about how many steps i do and the white house correspondents dinner is definitely the most 24,000 steps that day i'm all over the place, whether it be in the pay industry shop, butcher shop, preparation of cold food on the hot side, working on everything and making sure secret service is okay. making sure we're ready for them to inspect our kitchen, working backwards on a timeline to feed that many people. how much time do we need for the steaks to go in and actually cook. there's a lot that goes into it.
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>> as far as the food goes we have primary prevaers that we source the food through. we sit down and that's when the ordering of the food takes place. it took place three months ago because we wanted to make sure there's the correct aging on the beef for the dinner that night. produce comes from anywhere from california, meet, usually, from colorado again, florida, california, the majority of it. >> are they participating. and keeping an eye on everything? they do.
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the thing with secret service, they kind of take our lead, but at the same time we take their lead. meaning, that they -- we know our employees who should be here and who should not be here, so as far as, you know, working together, we really work well together. as far as overseeing the production of the food, they will walk around and inspect things, check on products, et cetera. but when it comes to time to actually serve them the dinner, the president's dinner is usually picked out of the 2,700 that we've produced that night. >> so eating the same food, it's random. >> correct. >> they ron domly select from the starter desserts as well as the entree. >> now, how far are we from the actual ballroom right now? >> right now, you're probably about 40 yards from the ballroom. >> so are the servers taking the
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food from this area or from this kitchen, bringing it out into the ballroom? >> yeah, well, the kitchen actually backs up to the ballroom. so it's only about away from th entrance to the ballroom, which makes it convenient but also efficient. >> chef andre, your employees here, to work at the washington hilton, because of the high-profile events that go on here, do they have to be especially checked, background checks? >> i honestly couldn't answer that question. however, i do know that everybody that walks in to the kitchen, once we turn it over to secret service, everybody is checked, once going through the secret service line. >> about special orders? a lot of people have food allergies, et cetera,
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gluten-frees. >> in my 11 years here, or my 12th -- this is actually my 12th dinner -- we've had a lot of special requests. and it's challenging that night because you're trying to take care of so many people. and when somebody comes across and says, oh, i only eat things that are dark shade, okay. right now my brain is not working. what's a dark shade? what do you mean by that? i've got somebody else that needs their food pureed. i've got a special vegan diet. i would say there's probably 100 to 150 special requests that evening. and it presents a challenge, but we do the best we can. >> well, what if you are one of the guests in the 1,000-plus rooms here at the washington hilton, you want a grilled cheese and a bowl of onion soup? are you going to be able to get it that night?
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>> they will. they will. we'll have our restaurant staff, restaurant kitchen and room service appropriately staffed. we'll have six cooks up there and three pantry persons up there working, and room service will probably have a staff of probably 15 that evening. so whether it's room service or a la carte or, you know, the people that like to watch. you know, if they're in mcclellan's bar, they'll be able to order bar food, whatever they want. >> and that's all done in a separate kitchen? >> yes, which is up one floor. it's right off the lobby. there's tdl restaurant and mcclellan's bar. >> chef andre, in the 12 years that you've been doing this dinner, has anything ever gone wrong or awry that you can tell us about? >> we've actually had a lot go
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wrong. you know, part of my job and my assistant's job is kind of look into the future, what possibilities are there for something to go wrong? so we actually take the menu and we think backwards. okay, what happens if we break 50 plates? what happens if we forget to light a hot box? so we kind of backtrack through the whole menu to make sure that we try to minimize those. now, we have had things like all of a sudden an oven got tired. >> got tired? >> yeah. it's a nice way of putting it. you know, we put a french onion soup in the oven, and all of a sudden, the oven wasn't working. and that's when you have to use the resources in the kitchens, all the kitchens, to be able to produce the food.
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so what we did was we used the pastry ovens. we took some up to the restaurant kitchen. so we're able to minimize any exposure. >> having attended this dinner, it's very crowded in that ballroom, and it is tight spaces. what's the advice that you give to the servers to get through? >> be patient. that's the biggest thing. and you know, from my standpoint, i don't see what goes on once they enter the ballroom because i'm so busy back here. we'll keep working until 11:00 at night, 12:00 at night. whether it be up in the restaurant or room service orders or there's afterparties that go on. so from a kitchen standpoint, we're not closing down. we're going -- i'll be here by 5:00 in the morning that morning, only because the anxiety's sitting in, you know. i startrtrtrtrtrtrtrtrtrtrtrtrtt
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