To ensure on-time, on-cost delivery of quality products and services to the warfighter, a Pentagon official encouraged clear and ongoing dialog between Defense Department decision-makers and industry leaders in a conference March 4.
James Russell, acting director of the Defense Contract Management Agency, told participants in Aviation Week’s Defense Technologies and Requirements conference that finessing the supply chain and deliverable war-product process is relatively easy to accomplish on a programmatic basis, but is more challenging on a broader scale for industry.
“[We want] to be able to understand what’s going on within that industrial base, take the information back [to] the decision-makers and figure out ways jointly to drive out cost, improve reliability and incentivize [everyone],” said Russell, whose organization oversees quality assurance, cost, schedule and supply chain predictability while managing about 335,000 contracts totaling more than $1.65 trillion.
Defense Contract Management Agency officials set up sector groups across industrial areas such as rotary and fixed-wing aircraft, naval sea systems, and ground Army combat systems to get a pulse on cost-saving avenues, Russell explained.
“We have a group focused on industrial-based capabilities and fragility at lower levels within industry,” he said, adding that some discoveries were surprising, particularly in less-prominent industries.
“What appear to be rather mundane but important systems [aren’t] getting the flashlight view and investment dollars in a downturned economy,” Russell said. “This is causing a real fear that some of the engineering talent, and research and development things that go on, just don’t have the opportunity to exist.”
As a result, DOD officials are trying to better understand where there may be risk, particularly in losing a capability that might no longer be replicable in an uncertain budgetary environment.
“We want to look for ways that we can incentivize [industry] to have that communication back and forth so we know the risks and what the impacts will be,” he said.