Bad Program Management Costs More Than Money

risk

One little nugget I’ve said too much that last week or so is that to many in the national security nomenklatura – especially in DC – the process is the product. The measure of effectiveness isn’t the ultimate delivery of useful kit to the fleet, but adherence to the process.

Billions upon billions of dollars can be made for years and POM-cycles on end getting ready to think about possible things that might be of some use … maybe.

We wind up with dead end programs that produce nothing. No one really is held to account. At the end of the day you have to do one of two things:

1. Like with the fail to transition that was ZUMWALT, you have to restart the legacy ARLEIGH BURKE line in order to keep a steady state or so of battleforce ships.

2. Shrug your shoulders with a, “I failed” like we did with CG(X), and then stare in to the abyss with the worn out equipment it was supposed to replace, in this case the TICO. You hope something will show up before you are deploying with museum pieces.

As a nation, it isn’t just the Navy who failed to perform, to do its job, to at least match the performance of previous generations of program managers – the other services too.

This doesn’t just cost money or put the nation at strategic risk – it can cost lives.

The USMC has a perfect example of this.

The amphibious assault vehicle mishap that killed eight Marines and a sailor in July 2020 has spurred many “lessons learned” that leaders say will prevent anything so “tragic” from happening again....

When the 13 vehicles were delivered to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit in April 2020, 12 were not operational. But they were deemed ready for landborne operations after months of repairs by 15th MEU mechanics, and by July, the AAVs had achieved “what we thought” was waterborne capabilities, Olson said. 

However, the vehicles did not meet the standards required for waterborne operations, as became clear after the accident. More than 54 percent of the AAVs in the fleet did not meet watertight integrity standards, an investigation revealed. 

“What we found in our subsequent inspections after a safety of use message came up on the 31st of July was that we had a problem across the fleet with our watertight integrity,” Olson said. 

Only now finding that out? Really?

Why?

Make no mistake – those who failed to produce a viable replacement for the AAV share a lot of this blame. An institutional mindset that will take unnecessary risks with lives in order to not embarrass the Chain of Command who failed to properly equip it – they too share a lot of the blame.

Who will hold them to account?

We’ll see.

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