Column: Pentagon should do more with less
Now is not the time to expand the Pentagon bureaucracy. Now is the time to do more for less.
Our country faces many urgent challenges, and increasing the scope and cost of the Department of Defense doesn’t solve any of them. Unfortunately, a yet-to-be-rescinded Obama era plan focused on “insourcing” government work is a plan to do just that — less for more.
The scheme, devised by the Department of Defense’s Missile Defense Agency (MDA), will turn the MDA into a “systems integrator” of programs like the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system — the only existing system with proven capability to protect the homeland from long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs.
Rather than relying on a single prime contractor charged with the overall responsibility of operating GMD efficiently and on-budget, this newly proposed “insourced” structure will rely on government bureaucrats to do so.
Under the MDA insourcing plan, newly hired civil servants will attempt to develop and source the systems and sub-systems of this complex program to a variety of vendors and then coordinate and combine them into an operational missile defense platform. On time. On budget. On spec. This is a formula for failure.
Standing up a new organizational structure — built to maximize government insourcing — with the government in the lead will take time and money we can ill-afford. Does anyone expect Kim Jong Un to pause his nuclear weapon and ICBM programs while the MDA develops the skill sets necessary to successfully recreate what industry already does successfully for the GMD system?
A quicker, better and more cost-effective solution is to harness the competitive innovation that animates the most robust and creative economy the world has ever seen — the USA’s private sector.
A single company, with proven capability to develop, install and maintain complex systems must be held accountable for the performance, cost and integration of an operational GMD system.
They will have the supply network infrastructure, driven by competition, to incentivize innovation, compress delivery times and take costs out of the system.
Such supply network optimization is currently being effectively deployed in the defense and aerospace industries of the Great Lakes Region under the auspices of the Michigan Aerospace Manufacturers Association.
The private sector also has the experience necessary to quickly adjust to changing priorities and missions for GMD with a speed and agility the government is not known for, especially in this critical time.
Why choose to grow a bureaucracy that will do less for more when American private industry is ready and able to do more for less?
Gavin P. Brown is executive director of the Michigan Aerospace Manufacturers Association.