The EU

Google says the EU requires a notice of cookie use (by Google) and says they have posted a notice. I don't see it. If cookies bother you, go elsewhere. If the EU bothers you, emigrate. If you live outside the EU, don't go there.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Federal Acquisition is Going Down Hill

Here is a blog post on the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), as it was and as it has become.  One man's opinion.

I would like to start by saying that I know nothing about the NRO.

The thrust of the Blog Post is that we had an excellent system for building reconnaissance satellites and then messed it up because folks in DC thought that the Project Managers had too much freedom.

This brings up the question.  Do we get, overall, better Government Acquisition when we empower managers (think the Navy Polaris Missile System) or do we get better Government Acquisition when we make sure the managers are guided by a large number of specific rules to guide decision making and the application of many reviews (think most recent projects within DoD).

Regards  —  Cliff

PS:  Hat tip to my Brother, Lance.

1 comment:

ncrossland said...

Like Cliff, I know almost next to nothing ABOUT NRO (nobody does...unless you work inside it). However, when I was assigned to Electronic Systems Center, we had several programs that were attached at the hip to the NRO, so much so that one of our SPR (Systems Program Director) retired from the AF and disappeared behind the green door of the NRO. The same fate befell his successor, but by a different route. He was promoted to BG and reassigned whereafter the only news that escaped was his promotion to MG several years later.....and then even more obscurity.

The manned recon platforms fell under the NRO..and as far as I know....the U2 continues to feed to the NRO....but that is simply a guess.

I think that the NRO and its relationship to the decline in the effectiveness of Defense AQ is only emblematic of a much larger problem. It goes to the very nature of the relationship between civilian oversight and management of military services. This is, for the most part, a very disingenuous relationship, one that, although never publicly acknowledges it, assumes the superiority of civilian military doctrinal and operational acumen. There are many examples to be had wherein the civilian princes of the Pentagon run roughshod over the senior general officers, particularly when it comes to executing national policy using military force....or preparing for that role. Gen. Abizaid was essentially told to "shut up and color" by a very young, aggressive civilian undersecretary at the Pentagon when he questioned the Rumsfield's decision to remove all Baathists once Bagdad was taken. This has its roots as far back as the Korean War.

At ESC while I was assigned there, great energy was allocated and spent toward preparing for and executing Program Management Reviews, gaudy events featuring the arrival of Defense nobility via an executive airlift aircraft followed by grand receptions and then days of massive slide shows and discussions that followed predictable scripts. If the prince was happy, or felt generous, he could bestow more money, time, or both to the program, but very often, we knew in advance that as a result of the political winds, civilian or more often, military, whole elements of a given program would be defunded and the money reallocated. This happened with the Navy got control of the JTIDS program. Within short months, the AF SPD was summarily dismissed and the Navy quickly drained funding from elements that it determined were "unexecutable." Mind you, when I say "Navy" I am referring not to sailors, rather, their civilain "leadership."

We would have....should have...had a brand new AF tanker flying today had it not been for the politicization of the AQ plans by, ostensibly, Sen John McCain. I submit, and strongly suggest, that the real impetus for his disasterous intervention came from within the Five Sided Wind Tunnel because the right political rings had not been appropriately kissed.

Each Service has its AQ horror stories, many of them, and they can all be traced back to a civilian oversight that is essentially a patronage force, who view the military as inept and incapable of great thought.

And what has befallen the NRO is only the tip of a very ugly iceberg.