Daniel Goure of the Lexington Institute, a Washington think tank and consultancy, is arguing that peformance-based logistics are one answer to President Barack Obama's drive to rein in federal waste, fraud and abuse. PBLs in the Defense Department world, he says, have already proven themselves and could easily help bring better outcomes to warfighters while cutting government costs.
Goure lists two examples. One is the C-17 Global Support Program (GSP), where Boeing has direct-sales partnership agreements with each of the three Air Logistics Centers (ALCs). The cumulative savings to the government in the first 10 years of GSP, a public-private partnership, is estimated to have been $562 million.
The other is the maintenance agreement for the F-22 Raptor, which won DOD's 2008 PBL System Level Award. In partnership with the ALCs, the public-private team increased the mean time between maintenance for the F-22 by 69 percent fleet wide – which Goure stresses means jets need fewer repairs. The team also achieved a 15 percent improved mission rate and a 20 percent reduction in repair time while supposedly saving hundreds of millions of dollars.
Nevertheless, Goure is making the case for PBL under a larger argument in defense of government outsourcing, which is coming under renewed scrutiny now that Obama occupies the White House. "Some government officials want to dismantle this successful system and bring all the maintenance work back into the public industrial base. This is a short-sighted policy. Performance will go down, because the private contractors would be reduced to their old role of parts providers, they would be forced to increase the price of their products that would ultimately raise the costs to the government."
Goure claims that overall, costs will rise and the warfighter will have less to work with. The argument is familiar to most anyone following the PBL debate since the 1990s, but I still think it conveniently bypasses one major counterpoint: DOD doesn't budget very well - if at all, really - for lifecycle costs of its weaponry. Rare is the top officer or program executive who is willing to admit to fewer purchases of something now because he or she knows, full well, it will take much more money in the future just to keep the inventory going.
Imagine how much more warfighters might get if Washington leaders weren't constantly shocked - shocked, I tell you - to have to shell out more for O&M each year.