Government Contracting News: How Efficient Can an Organization Be If It Doesn’t Speak with Its Stakeholders?

Written on October 21, 2019

Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord told an Association of the United States Army (AUSA) audience this week that her office continues to look for places to cut and become more efficient.  Everyone wants an efficiently-run government, so what’s the potential problem with Lord’s statement?  Efficiency that comes at the cost of minimizing, or in some cases eliminating, opportunities for discussions with stakeholders isn’t really efficiency at all.  A lack of communication can often result in less-efficient, more isolated operations.  This has already started to happen in parts of Lord’s organization where fewer people remain to do just as much, if not more, work than before a 2018 round of cuts was implemented.  Industry has seen its opportunities for meaningful dialogue reduced to a handful of association meetings with pre-approved agendas.  Try to get a question answered by DOD Acquisition outside of an association event, and you may be met with silence.  In one case, industry officials were told that, if it were up to them, DOD Acquisition wouldn’t meet with industry at all.  It’s not entirely their fault.  Congress continues to add reporting requirements to each year’s Defense Authorization bill, while simultaneously demanding cuts in 4th Estate” budgets.  There’s only so much time to respond to Congress, internal DOD customers and industry.  The past 25 years have seen impressive improvements in DOD acquisition precisely because of opportunities for robust dialogue with industry.  These changes have unquestionably benefitted the warfighter.  Reducing opportunities for discussion may slow further progress or even result in backsliding.  Neither outcome could be called “efficient.”  See the story here for more.

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