Advisory group says Pentagon needs to improve lines of communication with industry

Monday - 7/20/2009, 6:30am EDT

By Max Cacas
FederalNewsRadio


The Defense Business Board is preparing a report for the Secretary of Defense suggesting that the Pentagon needs to improve communication with defense contractors.

The topic of defense-industrial communication was the subject of a task force report by Chairman Denis Bovin, a senior fellow of the DBB advisory group, that met last Thursday at the Pentagon.

"There was a consistent theme," he told a meeting of the full board, "that communications were kind of one-off, they were limited, they were infrequent, there was not much communication between the customer and the supplier base."

Bovin's group interviewed leaders of large, medium and small companies that do business with the Pentagon; foreign firms; small high tech companies; small-business set-aside companies; federally funded research groups; industry organizations; and last of all, stakeholders within the Pentagon. He says their findings should give pause to any fed dependent on a DoD contractor for their program or any contractor whose business survival is dependent on the Pentagon.

Information that was flowing from DoD, because it came from many different sources, and many different objectives, was often inconsistent and unclear to the suppliers. Industry often believes its under siege, its often unfairly criticized for issues beyond its control, its made out to be the bad guys, and they have a strong desire to improve the way they are perceived.

Bovin says that like most things, defense-industrial communication is subject to cycles, and at present, "we are at a time when its considered to be poor."

Bovin's task force issued a list of recommendations for what he has dubbed the "Industry Strategic Communications Plan," to be considered by the full DBB.

Among them: initiating twice-a-year meetings of a "Senior Leadership Council", consisting of CEOs of major suppliers, and smaller firms, to facilitate periodic exchanges of information.

The Communications task force of the DBB is expected to deliver its final report to the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics sometime within the next several months.

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