The US Department of Defense has been facing serious accounting and finance-related issues for years. Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. is one of many consulting companies trying to help them change that, and in May 2006 they received a new blanket purchase agreement (BPA) under contract HQ-0423-06-A-0011 in support of the Defense Finance and Service (DFAS) agency transformation initiative. The contract covers program management, accounting, training, human resource services and Information Technology services in support of the Transformation Directorate at DFAS Indianapolis, IN. Booz consultants role will assist DFAS in planning and executing agency efforts and lead a team of vendors under the BPA through 21 contractor teaming arrangements. These services will be temporary support to closing DFAS locations, and are not anticipated to be required after agency transformation is complete.
The UK’s Parliamentary Defence Committee has released its 2007-08 Session report that looks at the UK’s new merged Defence Equipment & Support organization (formerly DPA and DLO), and assesses Britain’s major procurement programs. The “Tenth Report of Session 2007-08, Defence Equipment 2008, HC 295” offers conclusions on a number of fronts, beginning with this general philosophy and then moving on to specific programs:
“We note that the MoD is preparing advice to Ministers about the defence budget for the three years 2008-09 to 2010-11 and that the MoD acknowledges that there are likely to be cuts or delays to projects in the Equipment Programme. The MoD needs to take the difficult decisions which will lead to a realistic and affordable Equipment Programme. This may well mean cutting whole equipment programmes, rather than just delaying orders or making cuts to the number of platforms ordered across a range of equipment programmes. While it is the natural inclination of all governments and departments to avoid bad news by “moving programmes to the right” rather than by cutting out an entire capability which has many supporters, such an approach can cause in the long run more financial and operational damage than confronting the perennial problem of an over-ambitious Equipment Programme. A realistic Equipment Programme will give confidence to our Armed Forces that the equipment programmes that remain will be delivered in the numbers and to the timescale required, and will also allow industry to make informed investment decisions.”
Globalized production has become a staple in many industries, but the defense industry is a unique sector where maintaining national capabilities has been given greater weight. The growing cost of defense platforms, and shrinking defense budgets in many first and second world countries, are now driving growing internationalization of the defense industry as well. At work, this means engineers need to pick up more project management skills, and entire companies are shifting toward “integration” skills that place a greater premium on good project management as a core corporate competency.
Education and training go hand in hand with these trends. One new option is Podcasts, “on-demand radio shows, to go” that are available via the internet, and downloadable to an MP3 music player via iTunes or workarounds. With the right connectors, or a CD burner, podcasts can even be played in the car during your morning commute. The Project Management Podcast(TM) is one option, and episode 56 is especially applicable to DID readers [MP3 Podcast | accompanying PDF presentation]:
“Tim Covington, PMP, was the Project Manager of the Boeing C17 Single Line Project, the largest lean manufacturing project ever attempted on the C17 Program. In today’s interview of The Project Management Podcast™ we explore this large project. We discuss the goals and challenges involved, the success factors that enabled Tim and his core team to successfully deliver the project, the awards the project has won and Tim’s tips to project managers who are embarking on similarly large projects. And just to break from our usual routine, we asked Tim not 10, but 11 final questions. We also continue our book giveaway of Quentin Fleming’s book “Project Procurement Management” and we answer a listener question from our voice mail line.”
America’s Congressional Government Accountability Office (GAO) has been conducting annual reviews of the F-35 A/B/C Joint Strike Fighter program for several years, analyzing everything from program approach to the wisdom of the program’s dual-source structure for the fighters’ engines. The GAO has a long-standing disagreement with the program over timing, and especially the decision to begin low-rate initial production before testing is complete in 2013. It has also backed the dual-source engine program as more expensive in the short run, but likely to save money in the long run; that backing has helped secure the votes in Congress to reinstate the dual-source approach for 2 years running.
In a sense, therefore, the most recent March 11/08 report and testimony could be seen as the running continuation of earlier disagreements. The report also contains summaries of program progress to date, however, and the warnings contained in its high level assessments are likely to have ripple effects in the USA and abroad…
EG&G Technical Services, Inc. in Dumfries, VA received a $9.9 million task order under previously awarded contract (M67854-02-A-9011) for professional technical support to the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Vehicle Joint Program Office. The contractor shall provide expert support directly to the MRAP Joint Program Manager and Deputy PMs; Assistant PMs for all MRAP vehicle variants and the following functional managers: Integration and Government Furnished Equipment, Spiral Development, International Programs, acquisition, contracts, production, quality, logistics, engineering, test & evaluation and safety. This effort builds upon existing contract support that will remain in place. Work will be performed in Stafford, VA and is expected to be complete in November 2008. The Marine Corps System Command in Quantico, VA issued the contract.
As of Dec 17/07, the US DoD has announced that 1,300 MRAPs were in theater, with another 180 are en route by sea aboard the RO/RO(Roll-On, Roll-Off) USNS Pililaau and another 15 MRAPs are in the air headed to Iraq. While the success of the revolt against al-Qaeda in Anbar province has led to a (not yet granted) request by the US Marines to reduce their order from 3,700 to 2,300, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell has told reporters that the Army’s request may actually increase, as commanders in Afghanistan are expressing an interest in getting more MRAPs than originally planned.
In light of a recent ballistic missile intercept by a Japanese destroyer, US Missile Defense Agency chief Lt. Gen. Henry (Trey) Obering is quoted by Aviation Week as saying it is time to incorporate more realism into the MDA’s testing process, now that basic intercepts have racked up a string of successes:
“What we have to do now is to turn our attention to make sure we can fully wring out the system in a variety of operational and realistic scenarios. And that is what we will be doing over the next couple of years.”
There are both technical and political dimensions to that course of action.
Since then, the headlines tell the story. “Cost Growth Leads to Stop-Work on Team Lockheed LCS-3 Construction.” “Littoral combat ship could slip behind schedule as price tag nears $500 million.” And more. The Navy was negotiating with the General Dynamics/ Austal team to turn the LCS 4 contract into a fixed-price contract where the contractor would assume all risk for price inflation above a set figure. That’s not a problem in principle, as long as (1) the price target is seen as achievable, based on the specifications; and (2) the Navy has a finished design that it will not interfere with once the contract is signed. If either stipulation fails, the fixed-price contract become either dangerous to the contractor, or meaningless as compensated changes drive costs higher.
The current news is not good news for the contractor – or for the Navy…
It is said that amateurs study tactics, while professionals study logistics. Analysts study procurement, because this is where the decisions are taken that affect both the range of thinkable tactics, and the logistics infrastructure that underpins them. Hence the importance of programs like the USA’s newly-launched Defense Transportation Coordination Initiative (DTCI).
At present, the US Department of Defense’s shippers in the continental US (CONUS) are handled by individual depots, bases, and other locations. Each location independently selects the transportation modes, level of service, and transportation providers they need, and so multiple information systems are employed to execute and manage shipment activity. There is no centralized planning, coordination, or control. The system works, because each shipment is managed. Is it as efficient as it could be? No.
Hence DTCI, which is focused on increasing operational effectiveness, while simultaneously obtaining efficiencies by reducing cycle times, and using best practices such as increased consolidations / load optimization and modal conversions. The premise is for DoD to competitively award a long-term contract with a world-class transportation coordinator/coordinator(s) that will help it achieve these goals, leveraging current commercial capabilities and proven practices save up to 20% as it manages, consolidates, and optimizes freight movements. In the business world, this growing trend is called 3rd Party Logistics (3PL).
The DTCI contract has a multiple phased implementation approach – which DID describes below in our Spotlight article, along with the program’s history & issues faced, the recent announcement of a winning team, the known competitors, and a collection of useful reference resources…
The US Army’s $120+ billion Future Combat Systems program has been subject to a great deal of criticism over its history. It was always planned as a development process with staged spinoffs, but a combination of pressure on the program and the field needs of the troops on the front lines is pushing that schedule. As FCS hits the 2 1/2 year mark in its System Design and Development (SDD) phase, there are plans to start delivering some of its elements beginning in 2006, for fielding and then upgrading as the program continues.
According to eDefense Online, the spinouts will occur progressively but can be broadly grouped into four main waves for timing purposes:
Special Applications Group, LLC in Tampa, FL received a maximum $150 million firm-fixed price and cost indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract. In return, they will provide technical, engineering, logistics, and program management services in support of United States Special Operations Command’s (US SOCOM) Special Operations Aviation Training company, Technology Applications program office, and Systems Integration and Maintenance office. Work will primarily be performed at Fort Campbell, KY, and is expected to be complete by Dec. 31, 2011 (H92241-070C-0008).