Defense Daily Open Stories Oct 9 2012 #4

Marine Corps PEO’s Advice To Industry Amid Budget-Cutting Talk

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The Marine Corps’ sole program executive officer (PEO) has a message to the defense industry: don’t over-analyze budget-cutting talks and bring your “A game” to his service.

William Taylor, the program executive officer for Land Systems, oversees the acquisition and helps with the development of programs including the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV), Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV), Common Aviation Command and Control System (CAC2S), and Ground-Air Task Oriented Radar (G/ATOR).

Taylor said in an interview he is pleased that the portfolio he has been shaping since 2007 is in good shape, with all programs stable and meeting their goals.

Now, though, the Marine Corps faces a new challenge: the potential $500 billion in decade-long “sequestration” budget cuts to planned defense spending triggered by the Budget Control Act of 2011.

The Pentagon funding reductions, of an estimated $52.3 billion each year, will start in January if Congress cannot agree on an alternate deficit-reduction plan. Sequestration would trigger a 9.4 percent across-the-board cut to most programs, projects and activates (PPAs) in the Pentagon budget, according to a Sept. 14 White House report. The White House’s Office of Management and Budget and the Pentagon have said defense officials should not be planning for sequestration, as President Barack Obama wants Congress to prevent it.

Taylor said he is not excessively alarmed by sequestration.

“I think people are over-analyzing it,” he said. “The implications across all our accounts are fairly clear….I think the guidance is sufficient enough to where we can forward-plan and articulate what the impacts are….We’ve already sat down with our leadership and to the best of our ability already articulated what we think the impacts are in a broad sense and specifically to each program.”

Taylor said it is not his job to worry about sequestration’s impact on programs, saying senior leadership has been explaining sequestration’s impact to Congress.

“I don’t think it’s going to affect our jobs very much, actually,” he said. “You come to work every day and you have to deal with risk, so it’s no different in that regard.”

Taylor’s portfolio remained intact after initial budget cuts triggered by the Budget Control Act, which total $487 billion and already are factored in to the Pentagon’s longterm budget.  

He said military contractors “shouldn’t over-analyze (sequestration) either.”

“The guidance is out there,” he said. “They can do the math and they can make appropriate business decisions based on that. But I don’t believe this is going to significantly change their opportunities. The robustness of their opportunities, perhaps. But the opportunities will be there.”

Still, as “the robustness of opportunities decreases” for defense companies, Taylor said, they “gotta come with their A game.”

“Because the mantra is full and open competition,” he said. “There’s much pressure to assume–unless something proves more prudent otherwise–that full and open competition is the best solution. There’re always exceptions. But the default position is (that) we’re going to deal in this environment by doing the best job in government by competing these requirements, these capabilities.”

PEO Land Systems oversees the acquisition–while also helping with the development and requirements-setting–of light-tactical, medium/heavy, and amphibious vehicles, as well as command-and-control, radar, and towed-artillery systems.

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