WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A proposal by a U.S. Senate committee to cancel the Defense Department position of acquisition chief could lead to an increase in costs, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Tuesday.
The Senate Armed Services Committee's version of the National Defense Authorization Act aims to cancel the position of under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics because it slows innovation.
The committee is proposing to divide the responsibilities between a new office in the Pentagon that deals with research and another which would address business management.
If the acquisition chief position, currently held by Frank Kendall, was cut, it would separate research and engineering from manufacturing and could derail progress made on lowering growth in contract costs over the last three decades, Carter said at the Sea-Air-Space conference.
"Separating these functions makes no sense, as procurement and sustainment costs are controlled by decisions made during development," Carter said.
The proposal still has to take a number of steps before it becomes law. The Senate version of the defense bill must be reconciled with the House's version before being voted on in both chambers. If passed, that version would be sent to the White House for President Barack Obama's signature, or veto.
On Monday, the White House said it would veto the House's version of the bill because it would shift $18 billion of wartime Overseas Contingency Operations, or OCO, funds to avoid automatic budget cuts to military programs.
(Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Alan Crosby)