Archive for the ‘Funding’ Category

NASA’s prior work to return Americans to the moon isn’t dead yet, but we may want to get a priest.

The big remaining issue will be about funding for contract termination, which I predict will be paid for by NASA.  And that’s not a very bold prediction.

Termination costs are why no contractor in their right mind will take on the risk of committing their own funding–for projects of this magnitude–to government work.  Too risky.

However, Lockheed, Alliant, and Boeing may want to leave the lights on for the SpaceX guys.

Or they may just want to give SpaceX an offer they can’t refuse, like buying them out.


The guidance for the services to come up with $2 billion in cuts for the FY2012 budget has been met with hosannas from the Secretary of the Army John McHugh.

The alleged carrot in this is that the services are supposed to be allowed to keep some of the savings.  I’m not sure how that would work because when Congress appropriates funds, it’s intended to go towards a particular use, and reapplying funding towards other programs is something Congress has become less and less enamored with through the years.  That’s why they keep lowering the threshold for the “reprogramming” funds from one program to another.

BTW,whatever happened to spending our way to prosperity?!

Too bad OSD didn’t come up with a–let’s say $5 billion bogey.  Oh, they did, but that’s two more years out, eh?  I guess then the Army will start to get really strong.

Remember the golden rule of just about everything: if it ain’t funded, it ain’t.  While policy is interesting, it is actually revealed in what gets–or doesn’t get–funded.

This analysis is basically appears to largely be putting a number of the budgetary requirements documents (known as r-docs) into a table and providing commentary from the respective r-docs’ word pictures.

The trends: space control, counterspace, and operationally responsive space are down.  Space situational awareness–supported in part by the separately funded space fence–is headed way up.  Also some serious growth in a couple of MDA’s classified PEs and finally, directed energy is (surprisingly) stayin’ alive.

Mail-in the QDR?

Posted: August 26, 2009 in Funding, policy, QDR, Strategy

The Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) is a legislatively mandated review of DoD strategy and priorities. Some in Congress feel the QDR has been used to avoid DoD transparency and accountability and that an honest review of fundamental national security issues will not be addressed in the QDR, but rather, that the QDR will rather be used to rationalize budgetary and resource allocation decisions which have already been made.

The President’s lead for defense is Secretary Robert Gates and he has been quite clear where he thinks the DoD needs to go. So, is the QDR supposed to be a reflection of his vision, or is it supposed to be the independent thoughts of a group of disparate national-security thinkers?

As for me, I think it is the former and not the later. Secretary Gates has presented a consistent path to first win the war we’re in and to concurrently prepare for an uncertain future. The fact he was asked to stay on as SecDef almost certainly means he has the total confidence of the President and has been provided an exceedingly long-leash in taking action to shape both current and future activities as they affect the defense community.

For the Air Force, these judgments and decisions have included capping the F-22 program at 187 airframes, procuring more UAV capability, cancelling TSAT, and revitalizing the nuclear enterprise. There is little subtly here–it is all quite plain and clearly announced in speeches and writings.

When we were in the Cold War, we used Cold War strategy, policies, and resourcing decisions. We are now in an era of irregular warfare. While the consequences of war with a near-peer are potentially far more dangerous than IW, the likelihood of that occurrence is less and is a risk the Secretary has assumed. The DoD strategies and priorities he has established will in effect be the QDR and rule the day until other challenges take their places.

Is this QDR being mailed-in? Perhaps, but does it matter?

During the mid and late 1990s, when we were reaping the benefits of the peace dividend, I first heard an ancient and wise programmer (someone who runs a DoD program or series of programs, not a software person) use the mathematical phrase D + I = O. For the uninitiated, that was shorthand for “disconnects plus initiatives equals offsets.”

In a era of no DoD budget growth, as the 1990s generally were, any broken or flawed programs (disconnects) or any new programs (initiatives) had to be “paid for” with money coming out of other programs (offsets). This sort of mindset led to money coming out of previously healthy programs with the here-to-for healthy programs themselves becoming chronically drug-out and broken. A planned five year program at $85 million would end up taking eight years and costing $135 million; a 15-year program would take 20.

It was all because the program, previously healthy, now had money taken out of it in order to make something else “executable” or healthy, with the unintended and ironic effect of the previously healthy program then becoming disconnected itself. Basically, programs that are not adequately funded cannot be expected to meet performance, cost, or schedule parameters.

Now, DoD has told the services to come up with $50-60 billion across the next 5-6 years for the purpose of providing “initiative” money for new programs that will fill capabilities gaps. This is not inherently evil, because priorities can and do change, and funding needs to change to match. The sad part is the programs that are “marked” to provide offsets are almost never killed. As such, they just limp along, needing more and more money put into them as them move towards completion, which will almost always be much later than desired.

The taskings to the services should rather be to kill enough programs to save $60 billion across the FYDP. Programs that come in missing the mark on performance, schedule, and cost often do so due to funding instability. While it is really difficult to kill a program, it often makes the most sense to do just that rather than allow it to exist on the margins, where it will be doomed to fail, falling short of providing a particular capability by a certain time. Leadership is all about establishing priorities, and when every program is important enough to save, all programs pay the price.