The UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) has responded to a Public Accounts Committee report that was highly critical of MoD’s performance and execution under Britain’s “Smart Acquisition” guidelines. The 20 largest projects currently in development are a total of GBP 5.9 billion over the originally approved targets, claims the report, and months behind schedule.
The MoD responded, of course, citing numerous improvements over the past year. It also released a new procurement handbook that offers the broad thrust of their future procurement practices.
The Public Accounts Committee recommendations included:
Citing members of the Israeli defense ministry, the Israeli newspaper Yedidot Aharonot reports that pressure from Washington has now forced Israel to freeze a $100 million contract with Venezuela to upgrade its U.S.-manufactured F-16 fighter jets. The Fuerza Aaerea Venezolana (FAV) had originally purchased the F-16A/B aircraft in 1982. Israel replaces most of the original American equipment inside its F-16s with Israeli-designed electronics and other modules, making companies like Israel Aircraft Industries a viable second source project lead and integrator for F-16 maintenance and upgrade deals.
The recent back and forth between the USA and Israel over defense-related exports came to a head over China’s purchase of Israel’s indigenously-developed Harpy anti-radar UAV and subsequent request for maintenance. By suspending Israel’s participation in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program, Washington was recently able to pressure Israel into essentially granting the USA veto rights on all Israeli defense exports.
At the time, concern was expressed in some Israeli defense circles that this power would be used for protectionist purposes. Is that the case here?
It’s a hot issue. Generals retire from military service, often after building up a great deal of relevant domain expertise, leadership skills, occasionally fame – and a wide array of inside contacts. Companies hire them to be executives, or sit on their boards. At what point does this practice become a “revolving door” leading to corruption, as opposed to real expertise that enhances companies’ abilities to deliver?
The Project on Government Oversight published their take on that very phenomenon last June, in their report “The Politics of Contracting.” As an update, they point to a recent item on the Washington Post’s “Early Warning” blog detailing “where are they nows” for quite a few recently-retired American generals.
General Dynamic European Land Combat Systems subsidiary General Dynamics Santa Barbara Sistemas has signed an 8-year, EUR 181 million (US $216.2 million) contract to supply the Spanish Army with a total of 72 155mm/52 APU SBT howitzers, upgrade another 12 systems, provide another 82 towing vehicles and radio sets, and add logistical support.
The US Congress passed the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) of 1994, ensuring that National Guard and Reserve members’ civilian careers were protected when they are called for military duty. Now, an Oct 20, 2005 Government Accountability Office report notes that less than 20% of the Army Reserve and Marine Corps Reserve have entered their employer information in the DOD database, and that information sharing between federal agencies responsible for notification and enforcement is almost nonexistent.
This is not an uncommon situation in many military, business, and government organizations. As a result, however: “GAO analysis of 52 complaints that had been closed and reopened two or more times found that recorded processing times averaged 103 days but the actual elapsed times that service members waited to have their complaints fully addressed averaged 619 days…” Read the rest of the Federal Computer Week article, or for a special DID feature read the full GAO report directly.
Kollsman Inc. in Merrimack, NH a $14 million firm-fixed-price delivery order under previously awarded contract N00383-01-D-012G for repair of the telescopic sight unit on the US Marine Corps’ AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters. Work will be performed in Merrimack, NH, and is expected to be complete by December 2006. This contract award was based on limited competition since there are only two sources approved for the repair of this item. The naval inventory control point is the contracting activity (Order 5041).
The first AH-1W prototype flight took place Nov. 16, 1983 at Bell Plant Six, located at the Arlington, Texas municipal airport. After gaining approval for production, Bell followed the prototype with 195 AH-1Ws. The last AH-1W helicopter was delivered in July 1998. It will be replaced by the upgraded, four-bladed AH-1Z Viper.
After resisting the creation of a new bureaucratic office for some time, The Pentagon is creating the Business Transformation Agency, moving dozens of its most extensive business modernization programs under a single roof. The result will centralize management of several department-wide programs, including the Pentagon’s e-mail system, the Defense Travel System, the Acquisition Spend Analysis Service and the Defense Acquisition Management Information Retrieval program. Among others. A two-star general or an equivalent member of the Senior Executive Service with the title of Defense business systems acquisition executive will oversee purchases for the programs transferred to the agency.
Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is calling to reduce “burdensome, extraneous congressional reporting requirements” and create more flexibility to transfer funds between spending accounts, while moving to address other concerns raised by Congress and the GAO over issues like the defense procurement spiral and concerns about the length of the acquisition process. These kinds of moves are not uncommon in efforts to streamline and improve government services outside the military, and Congress’ own role in creating many of the problems it decries in the military acquisition system is certainly an under-investigated topic.
STIDD Systems Inc. in Greenport, NY received $6.8 million under previously awarded GSA Federal Supply Schedule contract M67854-05-F-1039 to exercise an option for 76 Diver Propulsion Devices (DPD), DPD spares, training, and other miscellaneous items.
So, who wants this equipment? Besides thousands of civilian SCUBA divers who have their own versions, that is.
General Dynamics Land Systems Inc. in Sterling Heights, MI received a $14.6 million firm-fixed-price contract for Generation II Suspension Upgrade Kits for the family of light armored vehicles (LAVs). National Defense Magazine article looks at the lessons of Operation Iraqi Freedom and some of the ongoing challenges for the Marines’ LAV fleet. A subsequent article discusses the upgrades the Marines are contemplating for their LAVs, and provides a briefing on the status of several other programs and the Corps’ overall vehicle timeline as well.
Work on the suspension upgrade contract will be performed in Ontario, Canada, and is expected to be complete by Aug. 31, 2007. This was a sole source contract initiated on Aug. 17, 2005 by the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command in Warren, MI (W56HZV-06-C-0008).