In defense of the Marines IT warehouse plan

Some commenters push back against the criticism of the Marines go-it-alone IT warehouse plan, but does the criticism point to bigger issue?

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.