As the Marine Corps reviews the alignment of its weapon-system portfolios, the service’s only program executive officer said he will be focusing more on vehicles and less on related systems such as radars.
William Taylor, the program executive officer for Land Systems, oversees the acquisition of high-profile vehicle programs including the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV), Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement (MTVR), Logistics Vehicle System Replacement (LVSR), and the service’s multiple amphibious vehicle efforts. His portfolio, though, also includes two command and control programs–the Common Aviation Command and Control System (CAC2S) and Ground-Air Task Oriented Radar (G/ATOR)–and the Lightweight 155mm Towed Howitzer (LW 155).
“In a broad sense we’re going to be primarily migrating towards a domain that’s focused on vehicles,” Taylor said in a mid-September interview.
He said this shift is happening so that his office, which is the only program executive office (PEO) in the Marine Corps, has “a certain domain logic.”
Navy PEOs such as Naval Air Systems Command and Naval Sea Systems Command, he noted, are more focused on like systems. When PEO Land Systems was stood up in 2007, it was assigned all Marine Corps acquisition category 1 and 2 programs.
“We’ve got everything from amphibious vehicles to radars to command-and-control to artillery; we lack that domain logic right now,” Taylor said. “So the idea is to migrate towards domain logic, and it seems as though it’s going to center around vehicles, both amphibious and tactical-wheeled vehicles.”
Next January will mark the five-year anniversary of PEO Land Systems. Taylor said he believes if there was ever a “window during which the PEO was viewed as a grand experiment…that window has closed.”
“I really believe that the Marine Corps now sees the value of the PEO as a bedrock contributor to delivering disciplined, cost-effective capability to the warfighters now,” he said. “So I believe the Marine Corps sees us as here to stay.”
Taylor said he and MARCORSYSCOM Commander Brig. Gen. Frank Kelley are “reviewing the alignment of our program portfolios here on campus” at Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Va.
That’s partly because he said an “unintended consequence” from the PEO’s standup nearly five years ago was the “severing of synergy” between some developmental programs and their predecessor legacy programs. For example, Taylor said, the JLTV program was separated from legacy Humvee program, which has been managed by MARCORSYSCOM.
Taylor said he and Kelley are reviewing across the board how to better align programs. The Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV) upgrade program has already been shifted under the PEO, so that it is managed along with related amphibious programs: the new Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) and Marine Personnel Carrier (MPC) efforts.
This realignment of programs is “driven primarily by fiscal constraints and the new fiscal environment we find ourselves in, but it’s also driven by just logic and it’s the right thing to do in terms of more effectively and efficiently managing programs,” Taylor said.
“You can expect more changes over the course of fiscal year 2012,” which starts Oct. 1, he added.
The Marine Corps is bracing for tough financial news in the coming months. The Budget Control Act of 2011 that President Barack Obama signed on Aug. 2 cuts $350 billion in defense-related spending over the next decade, according to the White House. The law also says if a new congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction and Congress can’t agree on a plan to cut $1.5 trillion more in long-term government-wide spending by the end of the year, additional cuts of $1.2 trillion will kick in, with half coming mainly from the Pentagon.
That “means we have to sharpen our pencils and redefine the way we conduct business,” Taylor said. “No longer are we operating or viewing our mission in a stovepiped fashion.”
Now, he said, as part of “normal business,” PEO Land Systems is working very closely with Marine Corps Systems Command (MARCORSYSCOM) and the requirements generators at Marine Corps Combat Development Command (MCCDC).
“We don’t do anything in isolation or on our own,” he said. “We don’t do things sequentially. We do them concurrently with all three members of these entities involved.”
Gone are the days, he said, when a Marine Corps combat developer could generate a requirement for a weapon system and “throw it over the fence to the acquisition community (to) take it from there.”
Taylor said PEO Land Systems and MARCORSYSCOM “have developed an agreement by which up front and early, working hand-in-hand with the combat developers…involving our cost estimators and our systems engineers, we actually sit down and articulate in real time the cost of very specific capabilities, so that the combat developers are making informed choices with respect to the level of complexity or the level of capability which they actually need versus want.”
“So they are making informed decisions with respect to their pursuit of capability now,” he added. “It’s costed out up front. So it’s a real reality check for the services in terms of just how costly some of these capabilities are.”
A lead cost estimator is working on the PEO staff who established cost-estimating capability organically within each program office, Taylor said.
Getting the cost estimators to work side-by-side with MARCORSYSCOM’s systems engineers, “so that they’re working symbiotically instead of stovepiping in their own little kingdoms,” is something in which Taylor said his office is investing significant time and energy.
Looking ahead, Taylor said the defense industry should expect “expect more scrutiny in terms of cost, (and) expect greater emphasis on sharing the risk of development.” That means the Marine Corps is moving toward having more fixed-price-incentive and firm-fixed-price contracts.
“Because of the extreme pressures of the fiscal environment (companies) can expect to share the burden of risk in developing these capabilities,” he said.