South Korea resets Fighter Jet bidding

Program progress, politics, orders, and speculation
  • Author
  • Message
Offline

hb_pencil

Forum Veteran

Forum Veteran

  • Posts: 870
  • Joined: 18 Aug 2011, 21:50

Unread post19 Oct 2013, 03:00

maus92 wrote:
smsgtmac wrote:
maus92 wrote:
smsgtmac wrote:
maus92 wrote:
Read "The Pentagon Wars: Reformers Challenge the Old Guard" by Bradley, and get back to me. It's a book, available at many base libraries.


And what a horrid little tale it is. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone without serious caveats. Such as only if the reader is interested in:
1. Culture clash fallout when AF and Army test philosophies meet. Traditionally, the AF uses testing and modeling results to grade possible designs and solutions. The Army traditionally has used results to merely inform decision makers.
2. Arsenal Bureaucracy Case Studies. This case belongs with the Spencer Repeater and M-16 stories about how slow and closed to new ideas Army arsenals can be. It is hardly representative of all of the Army, Air Force, or pretty much any other DoD sub-culture behaviors. Some of the problematic test aspects Burton describes were identical to a problem an Army researcher pointed out as something that needed changing years (decades?) before on another test program (Anti-armor shape charge).
3. Consequences of not choosing your friends wisely. Burton never should have let himself get sucked into the reform-school gang of reformers. And never let them help you with your book.
4. An example of the norm. It is rare indeed that someone truly is appreciated for his making the tough stand. Honorable people do it thousands of times every day knowing full well there could/will be blowback. Those with big egos for some reason get upset when it happens to them and cry about it. Those who get the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow are the insufferable exceptions. N.N. Taleb (among others) likes to point out that the positive results of the ~.1% are trumpeted and the other ~99.9% who fall away are left unseen. Its called Survivorship Bias.



Don't like Bradley? - then you definitely won't like Jankowski.


I assume you mean Thaddeus Jankowski? Yep. His (and far too many others) problem is he thinks civilian 'management' theory is directly applicable to the military world. He possesses inconsequential knowledge that he tries to apply consequentially. He's like a am USMC version of the AFs Dan Ward. :)

BTW: I know you meant 'Burton' not 'Bradley' so I didn't say anything the first time. But others may read this and want to look up who we're talking about, so they need to know it is Col Burton. If you want to read the sine qua non of organizational insurgency read Bergerson's "The Army Gets an Air Force". Rationalization like you've never read before, but no where does it adequately defend such insurgency as 'right'. (One reason why I loathe Social 'Scientists'.)


Thanks for the catch re: Burton. Probably had the APC on my brain when I wrote it - unfortunately I'd given his book away a move or two ago, and was relying on memory and just repeated the error. Anyway, the point behind the references is to *encourage* people to search out the material and get more familiar with structural and cultural issues within the Pentagon, and how they affect acquisition decisions and policy. Some clearly have seen the material and discounted it, while others may come to a different conclusion.


Thing is, we are over thirty years away from the events that the book discusses. In terms of management processes we're probably two if not three generations away from what that book discusses. Its written about pre-Goldwater Nichols events,with the wholesale changes that act introduced: the organizational structure is much more delineated than before. It predate the whole performance metrics revolution introduced in the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) in 1993. Consequently government executives are much better able to manage their workforces and hit metrics. You have the Nunn McCurdy Provision (which fits somewhere within that timeframe, but its effects are particularly noticeable after 1990.) that introduced much more effective oversight into procurement. A number of projects have been cancelled as a result of a Nunn McCurdy breach.

Finally we have a acquisitions workforce that is literally a light year ahead of anything back then. The establishment of the DAU and comprehensive education effort for all government executives. Rear Adm. David Venlet had a MS in Aerospace Engineering and a degree from the Naval Postgraduate school. This is Lt. General Bogdans' educational resume:


EDUCATION
1983 Distinguished graduate, Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo.
1989 Distinguished graduate, Squadron Officer School, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
1990 Distinguished graduate, Air Force Test Pilot School, Edwards AFB, Calif.
1994 Master of Science degree in engineering management, with distinction, California State University, Northridge
1995 Distinguished graduate, Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
1998 Air War College, by correspondence
2000 Distinguished graduate, Master of Science degree in national resource strategy, Industrial College of the Armed Forces, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C.
2005 Advanced Program Managers Course, Defense Systems Management College, Fort Belvoir, Va.
2006 Air Force Senior Leadership Course, Center for Creative Leadership, Greensboro, N.C.
2007 National Security Management Course, Maxwell School of Citizenship, Syracuse University, N.Y.


I'd wonder if you went back to the 1980s, how many program execs had 1/2 of this resume? I know most would probably have a bachelors, staff college degree, and that's it. And I think this educational effort is showing up in vastly improved management outcomes.

So to sum up what has changed: Oversight has dramatically improved, Management culture is much more rigorous and education focused on the needs of the student. Its not even close to the same.

I'll be perfectly frank with you. I think if you think that Defence procurement today is ANYTHING like what was portrayed in Pentagon Wars, I think you have an extremely biased perspective. The book was written at probably the height of waste and mismanagement culture in DoD, best exemplified by that Time magazine article that cited the $800 dollar screwdriver. I think the past 30 years has seen tremendous change, towards a more exacting and effective acquisition process.

Is it perfect? Absolutely not. But as someone who is deeply interested and fairly conversant in the nature of defence procurement in the United States, its nowhere near what is described in the Pentagon wars. And that's also if you assume if defence procurement actually looked like that in the 1970s and 80s. As this thread makes clear, people don't accept much of it at face value. Having also read other works from the "defence reform movement" I feel they are often biased in order to force the reader to accept the the authors' viewpoint. I wasn't really around back then, but I can tell you its changed for over the 10 to 20 I've looked at this area.


For me, I think its more interesting to look at some of the ground assumptions that make defence procurement that much more difficult to manage than the civil sector. Gansler's Defence Industry is much more instructive about the broader structural issues that affect problems in this field.
Last edited by hb_pencil on 19 Oct 2013, 08:35, edited 1 time in total.
Offline
User avatar

blindpilot

Elite 1K

Elite 1K

  • Posts: 1222
  • Joined: 01 Mar 2013, 18:21
  • Location: Colorado

Unread post19 Oct 2013, 06:09

hb_pencil noted : "I wasn't really around back then, but I can tell you its changed for over the 10 to 20 I've looked at this area."

I was around back then, and my brother continued in service to manage major Air Force programs with familiar names you would recognize into the Iraq war times. He still is connected today as a consulting contractor (not Lockheed or Boeing :D :D ) to the issues you address.

You have it right.

In my humble (but not uninformed) opinion.

BP
Offline

neurotech

Elite 2K

Elite 2K

  • Posts: 2346
  • Joined: 09 May 2012, 21:34

Unread post19 Oct 2013, 16:13

I agree with hb_pencil.

Things changed significantly for the JSF program under Sec. Gates. He wasn't willing to accept cost-overruns and problems without solutions. Vice Admiral Venlet had a distinguished career in the fleet, as a test pilot and then as a project manager. I do agree that the management education at the top makes a difference. Lt. Gen. Bogdan didn't get where he was by accepting things "the way they are" and sat down and worked though the problems, some privately, some publicly.

I notice mis-management in major IT projects a lot, and in some sectors cost overrun and schedule slips have become the norm, and the response is to bring in another layer of "management consultants" to write a report.

I have no doubt that If I sat down with Lt.Gen. Bogdan and asked him about the various systems (eg. Helmet) on the F-35 he'd have the knowledge to understand the technology of those systems. What details he can reveal is a separate question. In traditional management courses, technical understanding takes a back seat to management theory, but that wouldn't cut it for the JSF program.
Offline

maus92

Elite 2K

Elite 2K

  • Posts: 2052
  • Joined: 21 May 2010, 17:50
  • Location: Annapolis, MD

Unread post19 Oct 2013, 17:20

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

While I absolutely agree that the acquisition process has become more sophisticated, there are fundamental issues that have not changed. As Jankowski points out in his series, some internal Pentagon *conditions* that affected the Bradley acquisition of the 70s/80s repeated themselves with MRAPs in the 2000s. Just by growing the process doesn't always get you the desired results.

Only continued self examination, better intergovernmental reporting and independent audit can hope to ferret out underperformance hidden by those persons or entities that benefit from the status quo.
Offline
User avatar

smsgtmac

Forum Veteran

Forum Veteran

  • Posts: 863
  • Joined: 02 Mar 2013, 04:22
  • Location: Texas

Unread post19 Oct 2013, 19:47

maus92 wrote: Only continued self examination, better intergovernmental reporting and independent audit can hope to ferret out underperformance hidden by those persons or entities that benefit from the status quo.

Really Well, I guess that's one person's worldview in a nutshell .
--The ultimate weapon is the mind of man.
Offline

lookieloo

Elite 1K

Elite 1K

  • Posts: 1244
  • Joined: 16 Feb 2013, 08:04

Unread post19 Oct 2013, 20:05

smsgtmac wrote:
maus92 wrote: Only continued self examination, better intergovernmental reporting and independent audit can hope to ferret out underperformance hidden by those persons or entities that benefit from the status quo.
Really Well, I guess that's one person's worldview in a nutshell .
Come-on... it's cute. Hipsters are so earnest.
Offline

gtx

Forum Veteran

Forum Veteran

  • Posts: 658
  • Joined: 26 Oct 2012, 21:52
  • Location: Brisbane, Australia

Unread post19 Oct 2013, 20:20

maus92 wrote:better intergovernmental reporting and independent audit can hope to ferret out underperformance hidden by those persons or entities that benefit from the status quo.


The risk with this is that in some cases (and I have seen it happen with some quality audits) is that you risk developing a set of people/organisations with a culture of always looking for things that are "wrong". This is not to say that critical reviews and the like aren't needed/welcomed, but at some point one can risk getting a point of diminishing returns.

In other words, in some cases such people/organisations won't be happy unless they find things that are wrong and only report them without taking the big picture/whole of system view. Moreover, sometimes the effort/cost to correct the so-called deficiencies might outweigh the supposed benefit derived.
Offline

lookieloo

Elite 1K

Elite 1K

  • Posts: 1244
  • Joined: 16 Feb 2013, 08:04

Unread post19 Oct 2013, 21:07

gtx wrote:
maus92 wrote:better intergovernmental reporting and independent audit can hope to ferret out underperformance hidden by those persons or entities that benefit from the status quo.
The risk with this is that in some cases (and I have seen it happen with some quality audits) is that you risk developing a set of people/organisations with a culture of always looking for things that are "wrong".
That's the culture monitoring agencies are supposed to have. The trouble comes when the peanut-gallery takes everything they say as holy gospel, as if same people who audit Medicaid are somehow the final authority on how to build a jet. One brings in outsiders to get an outsider view unsullied by career considerations and cronyism. Sometimes they find something embarrassing (like an $800 screwdriver) and the problem gets fixed; but one should never lose sight of the fact that such people are GENERALISTS, not qualified experts. The authority invested by journalists in un-elected, unqualified bureaucrats is galling; an alien monitoring defense-publications could be forgiven for assuming that the GAO is our chief governing body.
Offline
User avatar

smsgtmac

Forum Veteran

Forum Veteran

  • Posts: 863
  • Joined: 02 Mar 2013, 04:22
  • Location: Texas

Unread post22 Oct 2013, 03:32

As an aside, I've scoured sources for years and NEVER found an authoritative reference that accurately cites wherever the "$800 screwdriver" episode occurred. Same for "$600" screwdrivers, or any other $ cost except a ~$250 screwdriver --and that wasn't even the real cost without overhead (equal or unequal/proportional) allocation. There WAS the $800 "Toilet Seat" that wasn't(Irate congressmen shaking a retail household toilet seat in Act II of Acquisition Theater non-withstanding), and a $435 Hammer that was also affected by the overhead allocation and was really reasonably priced once you just counted the base price of the tool.
I've come to the conclusion that the terminally offended just like the way 'screwdriver' flowed from the mouth and liked the $800 value attached to the "Toilet Seat" (again: that wasn't) because it was larger. The perverted facts get passed around and twisted a little more until eventually "Why EVERYONE JUST KNOWS the DoD wastes money on EVERYTHING they buy."
I consider this widespread and erroneous sentiment one of the greatest disinformation campaign successes of the so-called 'reformers' in the 80's.

That and "You have to fly low and slow to do CAS". :wink:
--The ultimate weapon is the mind of man.
Offline

neurotech

Elite 2K

Elite 2K

  • Posts: 2346
  • Joined: 09 May 2012, 21:34

Unread post22 Oct 2013, 22:46

smsgtmac wrote:As an aside, I've scoured sources for years and NEVER found an authoritative reference that accurately cites wherever the "$800 screwdriver" episode occurred. Same for "$600" screwdrivers, or any other $ cost except a ~$250 screwdriver --and that wasn't even the real cost without overhead (equal or unequal/proportional) allocation. There WAS the $800 "Toilet Seat" that wasn't(Irate congressmen shaking a retail household toilet seat in Act II of Acquisition Theater non-withstanding), and a $435 Hammer that was also affected by the overhead allocation and was really reasonably priced once you just counted the base price of the tool.
I've come to the conclusion that the terminally offended just like the way 'screwdriver' flowed from the mouth and liked the $800 value attached to the "Toilet Seat" (again: that wasn't) because it was larger. The perverted facts get passed around and twisted a little more until eventually "Why EVERYONE JUST KNOWS the DoD wastes money on EVERYTHING they buy."
I consider this widespread and erroneous sentiment one of the greatest disinformation campaign successes of the so-called 'reformers' in the 80's.

That and "You have to fly low and slow to do CAS". :wink:

I'm sure you're well aware that development costs and administrative overhead result in these "$800 toilet seat" type situations. If they ordered 100 toilet seats instead of 10, the cost would be significantly less per unit, and probably close to the same overall cost.

Interestingly, the F-35B isn't likely to be cleared to fire its weapons in hover or STOVL slow flight such as for CAS missions. The F-35B could use the EOTS to designate a target for a UCAV to engage.
Offline
User avatar

count_to_10

Elite 3K

Elite 3K

  • Posts: 3283
  • Joined: 10 Mar 2012, 15:38

Unread post23 Oct 2013, 00:20

There WAS the $800 "Toilet Seat"

I can easily imagine the total cost of designing and custom building twenty toilet seats to specifically fit into space available in the B-2 adding up up to more than $16,000, particularly if it has to be done by people with secret clearances.
We could be talking as little as two months of man hours.
Einstein got it backward: one cannot prevent a war without preparing for it.

Uncertainty: Learn it, love it, live it.
Offline
User avatar

smsgtmac

Forum Veteran

Forum Veteran

  • Posts: 863
  • Joined: 02 Mar 2013, 04:22
  • Location: Texas

Unread post23 Oct 2013, 02:43

Full quote should read:
There WAS the $800 "Toilet Seat" that wasn't

It's important, because it wasn't a 'seat' at all. It was the unit cost for a crashworthy toilet seat BASE made out of composites for the P-3 with a very small production run.
I was working with composites at that time in our unit making fuselages and access covers for XBQM-106A RPVs. $800 was a freakin' bargain. :wink:
--The ultimate weapon is the mind of man.
Offline

Corsair1963

Elite 5K

Elite 5K

  • Posts: 5715
  • Joined: 19 Dec 2005, 04:14

Unread post23 Oct 2013, 07:49

Like everything in the Media. It's not what they tell you but what they "DON'T"!
Offline
User avatar

XanderCrews

Elite 5K

Elite 5K

  • Posts: 5997
  • Joined: 16 Oct 2012, 19:42

Unread post23 Oct 2013, 18:52

smsgtmac wrote:As an aside, I've scoured sources for years and NEVER found an authoritative reference that accurately cites wherever the "$800 screwdriver" episode occurred. Same for "$600" screwdrivers, or any other $ cost except a ~$250 screwdriver --and that wasn't even the real cost without overhead (equal or unequal/proportional) allocation. There WAS the $800 "Toilet Seat" that wasn't(Irate congressmen shaking a retail household toilet seat in Act II of Acquisition Theater non-withstanding), and a $435 Hammer that was also affected by the overhead allocation and was really reasonably priced once you just counted the base price of the tool.
I've come to the conclusion that the terminally offended just like the way 'screwdriver' flowed from the mouth and liked the $800 value attached to the "Toilet Seat" (again: that wasn't) because it was larger. The perverted facts get passed around and twisted a little more until eventually "Why EVERYONE JUST KNOWS the DoD wastes money on EVERYTHING they buy."
I consider this widespread and erroneous sentiment one of the greatest disinformation campaign successes of the so-called 'reformers' in the 80's.


Well said. Its the human need to "short cut" thinking. Rather than delve into the details. and "urban legend" quickly blurs into "science fact" then further blends into "common knowledge"

BTW I look forward to sending someone on a long google voyage the next time its brought up and I ask for a source. :lol:
Offline

luke_sandoz

Forum Veteran

Forum Veteran

  • Posts: 501
  • Joined: 08 Feb 2011, 20:25

Unread post23 Oct 2013, 21:48

Government procurement via drive by sound bite.

Now I understand ObamaCare.
PreviousNext

Return to Program and politics

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests