in

DoD's Brigadier General Michael Brogan to contractors: You're still needed

DoD's Brigadier General Michael Brogan to contractors: You're still needed - top government contractors - best government contracting event

brogan3The word's out: The Department of Defense will insource 33,000 positions over the next few years. Of that number, 10,000 will replace contractors currently working in support of acquisition organizations like Naval Sea Systems Command, Naval Air Systems Command, and Marine Corps Systems Command. So, how can contractors best maintain relevance? ExecutiveBiz took that question to Brigadier General Michael Brogan, Commander of the Marine Corps Systems Command. The good news? “We're still going to rely on them [contractors],“ says Brogan. But, he adds, “We're just not going to have as many of them as we've had in the past.“ Learn how you can stay relevant.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS:

  • “Insourcing is not meant to attack those folks who provided a service for us,“ says Brogan.
  • “Support contractors who can prepare plans and analyses are still going to be useful to us,” he says.
  • “Also, cutting-edge technology is a great area where support contractors can lend their expertise,“ he adds.

  • “For our industry partners there is certainly going to be a period of introspection.” “” Brigadier General Michael Brogan, USMC


ExecutiveBiz: What's the imperative for DoD to insource?

Brogan: Insourcing is really meant as an opportunity to balance our skill sets and return core competencies that we once outsourced, it's not meant to attack those folks who provided a service for us. If you look back to 1992, the Department of the Navy's acquisition workforce was almost 86,000 people, and we were doing about $4.5 billion a year in investments. Fast forward to today: We've almost cut the workforce in half “” to 43,000 “” yet the dollar value we're doing is twice as large. Similarly, at Marine Corps Systems Command, we handled about $2.6 billion a year in investment accounts prior to September 11. Last year we handled $22.4 billion “” that's a nine-fold increase in workload, but no increase in workforce. We, the government, frankly abdicated our responsibility for things like systems engineering.

ExecutiveBiz: Where do USMC's insourcing plans currently stand?

Brogan: We’re going to hire for 213 insourced positions for the fiscal year 2010. Because we're not going to be able to hire them all at once I've already granted authorization for our folks to begin that hiring now, with the expectation that as we go through the hiring process even if we brought some onboard in fiscal year 2009 because they wouldn't all be here at the beginning of 2010 we would have enough budget to do it. $54 million was taken out of our budget that was directly allocated to support contracts. $27 million was added back to our civilian salary line so we've already had a net decrease of $27 million at this command.

ExecutiveBiz: Some say insourcing runs the risk of triggering greater costs for government. What's your take?

Brogan: DoD's feeling is we're going to save money. On average, a full-time U.S. government employee in the capitol region is $130,000 a year. [By contrast] the government pays about $240,000 a year [for each support contractor]. Certainly the [contractor] doesn't see all of that; some [of the money] goes toward overhead and other direct costs that make a contractor more expensive than a U.S. government employee.

ExecutiveBiz: What guidance can you offer our readers on the definition of “inherently governmental“?

Brogan: In the broad policy direction, anytime someone is obligating the government to buy goods and services they must be a warranted contracting officer, that's pretty clear. In some cases, because of our workload, we've been forced to have support contractors sit in those meetings and take notes. But they can never respond on behalf of the government. We also need systems engineers who can [provide] system reliability, system design, and file design reviews to ensure that all specifications are adequately met by a contractor. For example, in the Department of the Navy we need to have naval architects and hydrodynamicists to ensure designs prepared by major defense contractors meets best design practices.

ExecutiveBiz: What work should remain the preserve of contractors?

Brogan: Ultimately, we must maintain some support contractors to give us the ability to flex when we have increased workloads, to meet our contracting goals with small businesses, and , to fill specific niches. While systems engineering is inherently governmental, gaining insight can be done by support contractors. Folks who can prepare plans and analyses are still going to be useful to us. Also, cutting-edge technology is a great area where support contractors can lend their expertise.

ExecutiveBiz: Some say insourcing should be decided on a case-by-case basis rather than as a matter of ideology.  Do you agree?

Brogan: Yes, [to a degree]. We need some policy that guides us, but it is never going to be so black and white that it covers every situation that may arise. We, as leaders, need to be trusted to exercise judgment to operate within the guidelines and to look at each situation on a case-by-case basis, guided by a framework substantiated by policy.

ExecutiveBiz: As the government builds up its acquisition force, some contractors are dismayed to see their workforce poached. What's your response?

Brogan: Clearly, some current employees of support contractors are going to become civil servants but we're not going after them. I can't say that carte blanche but that's not our intent.  I would offer that there are certainly a number of retired civil servants now working for those support contractors. They're drawing their U.S. retired government pay, working in an area where they gained considerable expertise while they were a government employees. There is nothing inherently wrong with that but one could ask them [contractors] whether they poached any of that talent from us.

ExecutiveBiz: How can industry and government continue to foster mutual goodwill and collaboration?

Brogan: Open communication is the key. [In a townhall meeting in early July], we tried to be as open as we could with our support contractors. We laid out for [support contractors] our plan, Resource Management Decision 802, that showed how many people we were going to hire. We then published a spreadsheet that showed the specific skill sets we were looking to insource over the next fiscal year. Even though we're going to insource about 900 people over the next five years, that's still going to leave a like number of support contractors working for the command. We're still going to rely on them, we still need them, we're just not going to have as many of them as we've had in the past.

ExecutiveBiz: As insourcing gets underway, what lays ahead for both government and industry?

Brogan: On the government side, we see this as an opportunity to both right-size our workforce and to ensure that we have the correct skill sets in the government.  For our industry partners there is certainly going to be a period of introspection to determine what in this smaller pie is still within their core business structure that they want to continue to compete for.  It will be difficult. There will be challenges on both sides. But if they go toward those things that we are specifically looking for help with, like our small business contracting, hi-tech, as well as niches where we don't have talent inside the US government, then perhaps both of us will do well. Our industry partners will continue to be successful, and we will continue to get the great support that they've provided us in the past.

What do you think of DoD’s push to insource? Share your comments here.

ExecutiveBiz Logo

Sign Up Now! ExecutiveBiz provides you with Daily Updates and News Briefings about Healthcare IT

mm

Written by Admin

Cyber Criminals Develop Method to Fool Investigators
Outpacing industry growth, HPTi's Scott Miller marks one year as COO - top government contractors - best government contracting event
Outpacing industry growth, HPTi's Scott Miller marks one year as COO