Latest updates[?]: Defense Department officials have warned against continued consolidation in the US defense industry, with DefSec Carter keen to assert that the clearance of the $9 billion Sikorsky acquisition by Lockheed Martin should not be the start of an emerging trend. Aside from reduced competitive pressure, a smaller number of defense prime contractors could drive up prices and down performance; a view somewhat contested by industry players.
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The US GAO’s 2008 Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs is proving to have a longer tail than usual. Booz Allen Hamilton is a strategic/ I.T/ program assistance consultancy with strong representation in the government and defense sectors. This May Day, we refer readers to the recent Washington Post article “One-Stop Defense Shopping,” wherein Booz Allen Hamilton VPs Dov S. Zakheim and Ronald T. Kadish discuss the state of competition in the American defense industry, and some of its consequences:
“The GAO report lays bare a festering problem in our nation’s military procurement system: Competition barely exists in the defense industry and is growing weaker by the day.
It was a different story just two decades ago. In the 1980s, 20 or more prime contractors competed for most defense contracts. Today, the Pentagon relies primarily on six main contractors to build our nation’s aircraft, missiles, ships and other weapons systems. It is a system that largely forgoes competition on price, delivery and performance and replaces it with a kind of “design bureau” competition, similar to what the Soviet Union used — hardly a recipe for success…”
America is certainly not the only country facing these pressures: Britain is even farther down this road, and Europe is aggressively moving to restructure its own industry into a very few global competitors. Ultimately, the policy implications described here will be played out on a near-global basis, with the possible exception of China.
Still ongoing in 2015…
October 2/15: Defense Department officials have warned against continued consolidation in the US defense industry, with DefSec Carter keen to assert that the clearance of the $9 billion Sikorsky acquisition by Lockheed Martin should not be the start of an emerging trend. Aside from reduced competitive pressure, a smaller number of defense prime contractors could drive up prices and down performance; a view somewhat contested by industry players.
In July 2012, the “Virginia Contracting Activity” accepted 10 firms into the $5.6 billion “Solutions for Intelligence Analysis II” program. It succeeds the original December 2007 SITA contract, which consolidated over 30 different contracts under 1 umbrella. These “professional support services” include services and technologies around the Pentagon Defense Intelligence Agency’s mission, which includes support on the front lines, for defense planners, and for defense and national security policy makers.
These winners can compete for individual jobs around the globe under a 5-year, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity umbrella contract, which runs until July 15/17. This lets the Pentagon quickly augment, reassign, or wind down individual efforts. Winners included:
We welcome the Department’s better performance in controlling project-level cost increases, but remain concerned that total costs of the top 15 projects continue to rise for other reasons each year. Projects approved since 2002 have shown significantly lower overall cost growth than those approved before this date and since 2008 there has been no overall cost increase from project-specific technical issues. However, in 2010-11 the forecast costs to complete the 15 largest defence projects still increased by £466 million overall [DID: about $735M], and the Department continues to struggle to live within its means.
A note on variables that a Department cannot control: macro-economic factors such as exchange rate changes accounted for 38% of the 2010-2011 increase. Meanwhile the National Audit Office (NAO) reviewed the way the Ministry of Defence is handling reductions in the size of its workforce.
The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Tactical Technology Office has 3 major focus areas. Advanced Platforms does a lot of work in robotics, from load carriers that walk like a dog (LS3) to UAVs designed to stay up for months (Vulture). They also do work in areas like hypersonic vehicles, however, and helicopter rotors that work better by changing their shape. Advanced Space Systems deals with programs like MOIRE flat-lens surveillance, and F6 fractional/clustered satellites. Advanced Weapons Systems covers projects like the naval LRASM missile, the Triple Target Terminator missile for fighters, or guided small-caliber sniper rounds (EXACTO).
In October 2011, US Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SPAWAR) Atlantic in Charleston, SC issued a multiple-award contract for FY 2012, whose options could drive it to $150 million, and extend work through FY 2014.
The Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, GA is an outgrowth of the BRAC 2005 process, which consolidated the Army Armor Center and School with the Army Infantry Center and School. In October 2011, they issued a 5-year, maximum $458 million contract among 14 contractors.
Winners will bid on task orders to help the center produce training strategies, doctrine, capabilities, analysis, instruction and products for the current and future force. Per standard procedure, work location will be determined with each task order, during a contract period that will run until Sept 30/16. The bid was solicited through the Internet, with 34 bids received by the Mission Contracting Office in Fort Bragg, NC. The 14 winners were:
As cyber-security becomes a greater focus for militaries around the world, contracts are following. The US Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific in San Diego, CA recently issued a set of multiple award contracts aimed at shaping the USA’s cyber-defense and cyber-warfare infrastructure.
Note that these are multiple-award contracts, hence not cumulative. The highest figure below is the highest possible total for the entire program, under circumstances that are basically impossible. These are 2 year contracts running to Jan 30/13, plus 3 more 12-month option periods. The contracts were competitively procured via publication on the Federal Business Opportunities website and posting to the Space and Naval Warfare Systems e-Commerce Central website, with 14 offers received. The 4 winners, and their terms, were:
$18M to Alion for Special Ops mobile repair systems under WSTIAC contract. (Nov 22/10)
The US Department of Defense’s Information Analysis Centers (IACs) are research and analysis organizations operated by the Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC). Chartered by the DoD to help researchers, engineers, scientists and program managers, IACS offer specialized research staff to DoD agencies and military services.
The mission of the IACs is 2 two-fold: (1) IACs provide access to worldwide scientific and technical information to improve the productivity of personnel in the defense science and technology communities. The IACs accomplish this mission by collecting, analyzing, synthesizing, and disseminating relevant information in clearly-defined and structured subject areas; (2) IACs serve their respective fields by providing technical services and solutions…
The MDA is expected to spend more $100 billion over the lifetime of the BMD program. The agency has come under criticism from the GAO for its lack of transparency and accountability.
“MDA’s flexible acquisition approach has limited the ability for DOD and congressional decision makers to measure MDA’s progress on cost, schedule, and testing…MDA’s baselines have been inadequate to measure progress and hold MDA accountable. However, GAO also reported that new MDA initiatives to improve baselines could help improve acquisition accountability.”
To help it improve financial accountability, the MDA is turning to 4 contractors:
At the beginning of FY 2002, Honeywell won a support contract for the USAF’s Satellite Control Network (AFSCN). The SCN contract consolidated development, systems engineering, integration and support functions into one contract that has the potential to reach $1.22 billion, and run to FY 2017.
Under this contract, Honeywell will replace existing communications technologies that make up the AFSCN’s ground network and tracking systems with improved components and antenna systems. Honeywell’s team includes TRW, L-3 Communications, Booz-Allen and Hamilton, SPARTA Corporation, Integral Systems, Inc., and IITC.
The US Special Operations Command (US SOCOM) awarded 4 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contracts for the Global Battlestaff and Program Support Services (GBPS) program. The 4 contracts have a maximum value of $1.5 billion.
Under the GBPS contracts, the contractors will provide personnel, equipment, tools, materials, supervision, and other items necessary to support a broad range of US SOCOM mission areas.