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  • $500 Hammers? U.S. Military Can Find Ways to Trim the Fat

    Nobody likes wasteful government spending, whether it’s $500 hammers at the Pentagon or federal employees using Uncle Sam’s credit cards to buy personal cameras, laptop computers and iPods.

    So the military should set a goal: Find ways to trim the fat in its budget, then reinvest the savings in combat missions. One area in which the United States military can operate more efficiently, possibly providing large-scale dollar savings, is in logistics.

    For example, if the maintenance costs incurred for the support of existing weapons can be reduced, the savings can be channeled into the acquisition of new weapons that will be less expensive to maintain. While this step would require larger overall defense budgets for the core defense program, it can help to initiate a reverse dynamic that will permit the death spiral to become a recovery spiral.

    According to the Aerospace Industries Association, the Department of Defense could save as much as $32 billion each year if it increased the application of performance-based logistics in several specific areas. However, achieving this level of savings would require five steps:

    1) Broaden the application of performance-based logistics at all levels of the logistical system, specifically the component level, the subsystem level, and the system level.

    2) Expand the Pentagon’s use of commercial supply chains.

    3) Use outcome-based partnerships in order to transfer best practices for distribution from the commercial sector to the public component of the logistical system.

    4) Establish more outcome-based partnerships in theater-based logistics.

    5) Provide greater access to commercial managed services to provide information technology to the logistical system.

    These steps would save money by streamlining the logistic systems the military relies on to remain deployed and complete missions. Most savings would occur in the operations and maintenance accounts of the Department of Defense budget. Reducing these costs would permit the Department of Defense to break the “death spiral” in the acquisition system, broadly defined to include the full life-cycle costs of weapons systems.

    The acquisition death spiral, as described by then-Under Secretary of Defense Jacques Gansler in 1998, is a cycle where aging weapons and inefficiencies in the support programs for existing weapons divert defense dollars to the maintenance accounts, which results in deferral of the procurement of new weapons, which in turn results in older and more expensive-to-maintain weapons.

    Initial experience with performance-based logistics indicates that it is a well-designed approach that could improve the overall effectiveness and efficiency of the military’s logistical system, particularly in the maintenance of weapons and equipment. So Congress and the Department of Defense should take action.

    Lawmakers should find ways to expand the use of performance-based logistics, and reinforce the partnerships between contractors and the Department of Defense. Congress should also establish a pilot program to identify and eliminate barriers to expanding public– private partnerships in logistics.

    Finally, and most importantly, the Defense Department and Congress should plow all savings from the logistical system back into procurement. That means more money and better equipment for our men and women in uniform, at no additional cost to taxpayers.


    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    6 Responses to $500 Hammers? U.S. Military Can Find Ways to Trim the Fat

    1. Pingback: » Financial News Update – 06/21/10 NoisyRoom.net: The Progressive Hunter

    2. Billie says:

      how sad. are the hammers made in America?

      I hope the military will take the necessary steps to tighten their budget practically and efficiently.

    3. Chris, Germany says:

      Are you kidding me Congressman? If you disbanded the DOD completely you could not come up with enough month to even fund the unfunded obligations for the give away programs in the out-years. The unfunded cost of social security, health care, government housing, TARP, continued bailouts,etc., far exceed what DOD spends. If you want to save and redirect big money you have to go after big money programs, not small ones. Therefore, Mr. Congressman, you must go after your pet rocks, the entitlement programs that are taking the country down.

    4. Tobyhanna reporter says:

      Army ASP program, you submit suggestions, you save the US money. Doesn't work. I have 5 suggestions in place and almost a year later they are still at step 1. Why should i submit ideas to save money if the people whom are supposed to take care of this don't even bother to do their job properly? Sad but true.

    5. Will, PA says:

      C'mon Heritage Foundation, you disappoint me. Everybody knows you can cut all Department of Veterans Affairs programs and save a couple of million here.

      Just dust off Drs. Satel (Dr. Sally Satel) and Chu (Dr. David S.C. Chu), have them make the same junk science statements they made several years back about alleged PTSD victims being frauds and the rest of the country will go along. Heck, it worked 40 years ago when the paleocons sold the Vietnam Vets down the river! You might even get some of your fellow travellers over at the AEI to chirp along.

    6. Steve S. California says:

      There are some fundamental flaws in your article, starting with the front end of the procurement process. Weapon system buyers are always confronted with the dilemma of where to spend the money, system, or spares? Want to fix it? Don't let that happen. make spares funding mandatory, but don't let it detract from the systems purchased. Otherwise, the buyer will short the spares to get the number of systems fielded that they needed, and then we pay in then year dollars for the spares, instead of now year. That's if you can get them, and you will pay more per unit, as the manufacturer will always take advantage of the situation by building in "inflation" to the new unit price. This situation is already bad because of the lose now for more later tactics of the government. The F-35 later for no more F-22's now is a perfect example. USAF will never get the F-35's they've been promised (history proves that), but they have sacrificed a superior weapon system for it, based on personal dislike, not proper assessment of need. Yes, you hear people say it was designed for another era, but nothing could befurther from the truth. Since when is true air superiority no longer vitally necessary in war? And who determined that the high/low mix is no longer a critical component of airpower? We are led by yes men who are led by morons, and that's best case. In this world we will fight with what we have now, no catch up production will happen in time, as the issue will have been decided already. And for those who don't see a potential threat, you simply aren't paying attention.

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