Procurement by Paralysis?

By Marjorie Censer / November 17, 2008 at 5:00 AM

The wave of advice for the incoming Obama administration continues. This time it’s the Center for Strategic and International Studies with a new analysis of defense procurement.

According to the report -- “Defense Procurement by Paralysis” -- the new administration “will face a crisis in U.S. national security planning, programming, and budgeting.”

The assessment, authored by Anthony Cordesman and Hans Ulrich Kaeser, says that the administration now in place will leave behind the job of awarding contracts that could be worth as much as $70 billion -- on top of current procurement and modernization plans.

The Obama administration will inherit a history of mismanagement of appropriations and procurement processes, incoherent force plans and unrealistic budgets, and legal proceedings. It will have to make unpopular cuts, possibly canceling programs that have already absorbed billions of dollars in development expenditures. In a time of economic crisis, heavy competition with other procurement programs and a doctrinal rift inside the Department of Defense, this task will . . . stir political resistance to some of the new administration's policies.

In particular, the document looks at four systems: the Army's Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter and the Air Force's Transformational Communications Satellite, Combat Search and Rescue Helicopter and Aerial Refueling Tanker programs.

“The new defense procurement priorities are still unknown but they will involve trade-offs between major increases in the defense budget and current force plans,” the report finds. “Reshaping an affordable and effective procurement program may well take at least the full term of the next President and involve major program cancellations, and further hardship for the defense industry.”