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In defense of the Marines IT warehouse plan

I got some good comments on my blog that questioned the wisdom of the Marine Corps plan to run its own warehouse for commercial IT.

It doesn’t make much sense to me, and I took the position that the Marines would be better served by letting a private sector company own and operate the facility, as that is what a private sector company is best at.

I got some very polite and reasoned push-back that I want to share.

One commenter saw the request for information as part of a larger move away from contractors because the Marines haven’t seen the cost-effectiveness of contractor-owned and operated IT, such as the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet.

In other words, the reality hasn’t lived up to the promise.

OldCIO said that the Marines are realizing that IT is central to their mission, and “without direct control the mission is at risk.”

And the SP Mayor from Summit Point, W.Va., wrote that he initially agreed with me, but thinks the Marine Corps plan does make sense.

More agencies want to go it alone, he said.

“In these constrained budget times, if I am truly mission oriented, I want to be left alone to take care of things because anything else creates a sense of lost control of the things that are important to accomplishing the mission,” he wrote.

The idea of working through and with other organizations, such as a contractor, who can be seen as encumbering the mission “pre-occupies my thinking. The Marines may not succeed in their desire for operational independence but I can understand it,” according to the Mayor.

Good points, but the issues these commenters raised make me think the bigger issue is contract management; if you don’t have the skills in place to manage a contractor-run service, then perhaps you are better off bringing it in house.

But I think it’ll still cost more over the long run.

 

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Jan 16, 2013 at 7:24 PM


Reader Comments

Sat, Jan 19, 2013 Melvocritter Tysons

And, since the Marines are just so good at warehousing, why not let them have a crack at the VA, at Medicare, at regulating the financial community, and, policing in major Amurican cities? Makes good sense, no? Ah, the real problem is trusting them. Don't get me wrong, the USMC are perhaps our very best warfighters, pound for pound, but being truthful to the Amurican people, the Cungress, etc., is not something that any military service does well, starting with the US Navy. that is why Navel Aquisition is so hosed. USMC acquisition is similarly hosed, e.g., the mired Fighting Vehicle program, and others. So why trust them to runa warehouse. Is this what we recruit and train Marines for?

Thu, Jan 17, 2013

I think the Marines are right on target. I was in the AF before all the technical jobs were turned over to contractors. We were more motivated and worked much harder on building our skills than contractors and GS workers. I think we should gravitate back to that model. In 1991 when Bush and Cheney injected the cancer that paid the best people to leave the military we started down a very slippery slope. The data on the cost savings on was ridiculous. Projected re-enlisted rates and total cost of retirement. Most of the technical people I worked with were out in 8 years. The cost of getting replacements up to speed was nominal because our documentation was so much better than most contractors.

Wed, Jan 16, 2013

You would be prudent not to take the Marines to task over this matter -- they are the known risk takers in DoD, and they will likely drive better outcomes in IT warehouses for the rest of the Dept.

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