Quick Fixes Sought for Defense Industry

By Erwin, Sandra I. | National Defense, March 2000 | Go to article overview

Quick Fixes Sought for Defense Industry


Erwin, Sandra I., National Defense


The Pentagon's high-level panel of outside advisors, known as the Defense Science Board, is expected to brief the defense secretary next month on how the department's procurement policies affect the financial health of contractors.

Overall, this appears to be a useful exercise, triggered by some unexpected developments in the industry. One was the financial woes experienced by two of the Pentagon's top contractors, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Company. The realization that even large, powerful firms are vulnerable in the financial markets caught Pentagon officials unprepared.

"I have asked the Defense Science Board to look at ways in which we might either alter, modify our contracting policies, find out ways in which we can be helpful to the industry ... They will come back to me with recommendations by mid-March or April," said Defense Secretary William S. Cohen during a recent breakfast with reporters.

It seems odd, however, that the Pentagon would kick off a comprehensive policy review during the final months of the current administration. These are the sort of efforts that, typically, have more credibility at the outset of an administration's four-year term.

But the Pentagon's acquisition chief, Jacques S. Gansler, offered enthusiastic support for the panel's work, even if it comes during this time of "short-term transition," Gansler told an industry conference sponsored by the American Institute of Astronautics and Aeronautics (AIAA) in Washington, D.C.

"We are going to listen to experts from all fields: Congress, universities, Wall Street, government, representatives from commercial and military industries," he added. Key topics to be discussed include research and development, price-based contracting, industry competition and accounting standards. A broad spectrum of issues, indeed.

The DSB group, chaired by Philip Odeen, of TRW Inc., will look at possible changes in procurement policies and practices in order to "strengthen our defense industrial base, while gaining in cost and performance," said Gansler. "They already have identified a number of promising changes that will simultaneously benefit both the Defense Department and industry," said Gansler. He also stressed that, "Our focus has to be on implementation tactics, not on studies."

That is hard for many industry executives to believe. Several industry experts, in interviews, said the timing couldn't be worse. They cited not only the short time remaining before the end of the Clinton administration but also the fact that electoral politics are in play. In addition, the Pentagon is scheduled to begin the mandatory Quadrennial Defense Review of defense requirements next spring. The review will be a massive undertaking that will demand undivided attention from the new leadership at the Pentagon.

"It's always tough when you are in the last year of an administration," noted Johnnie E. Wilson, retired general who ran the Army Materiel Command, a nearly $20 billion operation that makes heavy use of contractors. Wilson is president of Dimensions International, a high-tech firm in Alexandria, Va. "It's going to be tough to make much happen this year," he said in an interview.

One problem that has plagued Pentagon policy-makers, suggested Wilson, is a tendency to bite off more than they can chew. "What I have said to the guys at the Pentagon is to select three to five things they want accomplished this year and not talk about a whole menu of things ... Because you just can't make major changes in the Defense Department.

"You really have to tighten priorities," he said. "Everything can't be a priority."

AMC's current commander, Gen. John G. Coburn, also appears skeptical about the prospect of substantive changes in procurement policies. "I have been around this acquisition reform business for many years [and] my observation is that you have a funnel effect ... You have a government bureaucracy that feeds an industry bureaucracy," he told the National Defense Industrial Association's tactical vehicle conference in Monterey, Calif. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Quick Fixes Sought for Defense Industry
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.