The real sequester impact

Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by Pima, May 28, 2013.

  1. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    http://www.washingtonpost.com/polit...e20bce-c329-11e2-8c3b-0b5e9247e8ca_story.html

    It is a good read not only from the impact of pilots being MQ and future assignments, such as schools like Weapons or TPS, but also the question of maintenance too.

    How much will it really cost to get every aspect back up to standards? The cut needed to be made because of how the sequestration parameters worked out, but I do wonder what will happen come Oct., and how there will be more unexpected costs for next yr because of this yr.
     
  2. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Oh the old F-15. Who cares now? The Chinese just stole plans for the F-35. We've lost control of tomorrow's fighter.
     
  3. KPEngineer

    KPEngineer Eternal Father ...

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    I don't have a lot of sympathy for all these "oh woe is me" stories. Unit Commanders need to be looking their own leadership in the eye and asking them how they let this happen. DOD had over a year to plan for sequestration and didn't. The old axiom is proving true. Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. Now the units have PPP and can blame their service leadership for the lack of Prior Planning.
     
  4. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    KP,

    How about this instead?

    Today's news:
    http://www.wjla.com/articles/2013/0...ive-furlough-notices-89467.html#ixzz2UrjgX9Sr

    I know at Belvoir, many of the docs, PAs and Nurses are civilian. Our DS broke his arm in 04, back then they already were undermanned and over burdened. We were told, "Yes, it is broken, give him aspirin, keep it in the splint, and will see him on Thursday at 10." He broke it at 4 on Tuesday. I can't imagine what they will do now.

    To say it was poor planning is not necessarily true. Budgets run Oct 1st to Sept 30th. The sequester became reality months into the budget, and their hands were tied on what they could and could not touch. Pay was not allowed to be touched, and when you have contracts with companies, they don't pay out monthly for many, it is a lump sum paid Oct. 1st. That money was gone at the same time our President did a George Bush 41 type of remark: Read My Lips....there will be no sequester.

    Again, it was not poor planning by DoD, it was hands being tied. The DoD had to move forward Oct 1st with the belief that our President was correct. Should they have defaulted on the contracts for what if he is wrong?

    Feel what you may about the flying world, but I hope that reading this link, you have more empathy now because whether it is a janitor, a receptionist or a doc, it will have an impact on these people trying to get back to life.

    OBTW, unit commanders are given a budget on Oct 1st too. Bases like the 4th FW were operational when the crap hit the fan, should they have said we aren't going for JIC the sequester happens? Have you ever talked to a flier, even prior to sequester? They cannibalize jets. They will send them up for a double turn, knowing that the tires have only 3 good landings left. Yada Yadda Yadda. This was all before sequester. This has been going on for about 5-10 yrs. They were already skimping where they could way before this yr.

    AF was one branch that started RIFs, SERBs, etc 2-3 yrs ago. They closed down ERs on base, shipped retirees off base for medical apptmts. (forcing them onto Tri-Care with co-pays), demanding to see college age dependents proof that they are registered at college instead of they are under 23 living at home.

    This has been yrs of cuts, but for the 1st time it has hit the op world.
     
  5. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    It was poor planning because federal agencies (and some non federal agencies... if that makes sense) were told they didn't have to plan for anything by OMB.... because this would never happen. And then it did.

    Sequestration wasn't just dropped on their laps, agencies and services had time to plan... and DIDN'T...

    Instead they stuck their combined heads in the sand... and then it DID happen.

    DOD especially knew it was a target.... and did nothing (not just from me, from my GS-15 planning friend at the Pentagon).


    And how do we know they didn't plan? First thoughts (and public statements) were... "OH NO, FURLOUGHS FOR ALL" until they realized they could make cuts, real cuts. DOD has been slow to figure that out. But I think DOD is also figuring out there isn't going to be a groundswell of support to "SAVE OUR GS's!!!" Sure I think it will trickle down at some point as contracts are cut, but you really think the country, DC or even the community of Bethesda, MD are going to rally around some federal employee having to go home once every two weeks without pay? I wouldn't count on it. I haven't seen too much anger around here.
     
  6. KPEngineer

    KPEngineer Eternal Father ...

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    You’re right that it wasn’t poor planning … it was NO planning!

    - August 2, 2011; Sequester signed in to law
    - March 1, 2013; Sequester takes effect.

    That is 20 months to plan for it, so what did DOD do? …

    WASHINGTON, Dec. 5, 2012 – The Defense Department has received guidance from the Office of Management and Budget and is now planning for sequestration, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today.

    Speaking during a press availability, Little stressed the department still hopes Congress will be able to avoid sequestration that would take effect Jan. 2, 2013.

    They did nothing for 16 months and then one month before it is scheduled to go into effect they START planning and HOPE that it can be avoided?!?!?! Not exactly stellar leadership, not even crappy leadership … absolutely NO leadership. You don’t have to start executing the plan before it goes into effect, but Jiminy Cricket at least have a plan. I am DAWIA certified in Program Management and Systems Engineering at level III (the highest), I am very very familiar with PPBES.

    The problem is that all the skimping goes on at the unit level, but not at the service level. How many high dollar conferences were cancelled? How many FOGOs put off the remodeling their already plush offices? How much travel and non-operational training was put off? How many rounds of golf were played that could have been planning sessions? Have you done the math? Real reductions were “only” about 6% (42.7bil reduction to a 670.3bil budget), so why are the individuals taking the hit to tune of 10-20%? I don’t mean to say I don’t have sympathy for those low down in the CoC, it is the DOD and Services as a whole I don’t have sympathy for. Don’t come crying to me the taxpayer to fix the problem that your own leadership created for you.

    BTW … I was assigned to NNMC Bethesda for three years from 2005-2008. I saw the wounded and their families first hand on a regular basis. Calling the leadership to account for their non-action is far more empathetic than sticking ones head in the sand and pretending that we can click our heels and it will all go away.
     
  7. Bullet

    Bullet Member

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    Quite a few misconceptions in here, so allow me to provide some perspective.

    Was this a case of the the DoD leadership ignoring the problem in the hope that it would eventually go away? Well, actually No, it wasn't. To answer your questions, Yes travel was restricted to mission essential travel only. Yes, conferences were cancelled to only those mission essential. Golf tourneys and new furniture? Well, the rounds of golf are played on everyone's own dime, and NOT conducted during work hours regardless of the Hollywood vision of Generals living the high life (really, have you actually ever seen a GO's schedule? I wouldn't want that life, EVER!)

    So, how did we come to where we are today if it wasn't a question of the leadership putting their heads in the sand? Well, you need to understand how the DoD's budget is planned and executed to see the picture. It really comes down to the TIMING of the Sequestration. The Services' contracts all take affect at the beginning of the Fiscal Year (1 Oct). This covers all things outside of pay and current ops; things like ship building, purchasing new tanks, making new jets, buying the bullets, beans, and butter needed for the rest of the year, etc.)

    Leadership made a calculated decision here: do we submit a budget with Sequester impacts included in our contracts? (i.e. reduce the "programming" portion of the budget and cut back on every program). Once the contracts are in place, getting the money reduced would lead to law-suits. Make a contract at the start that says "well, because of Sequester, we're only going to pay you XX% of the funds. But we WANT you to make 100% of the production we need. We'll pay you the extra amount when the Sequester is cancelled. Promise!" No can-do for most of the companies we are asking to sign that contract. Would you? Go to Congress instead with a budget for these programs that already accounted for Sequester reductions with a message that said: "We planned for it, and here is our reduced budget in case it's needed", and Congress would simply say "Thank you very much. Nice plan, it looks like you can live with these reduced program buys quite well, regardless of Sequester happening or not. Your budget is now permanently cut for these programs."

    Kind of "Damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation. So they submitted a budget that did not take Sequester into account for the Fiscal Year, and went forward with the programming contracts. All in the hopes that Congress would actually DO something on the President's "dire" plan (I mean, they ALL agreed Sequester was a bad plan NO ONE could live with). So, when sequester DID happen in the middle of the Fiscal Year, the only place left to cut were operations (thus sitting down those troops not getting ready to go or currently engaged in combat) and pay (i.e. the civilian furloughs).

    Do I like it? No (says a guy getting furloughed). Do I see how the Potomac Two-Step played by our Executive and Legislative Branches led to the situation? Yes. Doesn't mean I'm happy wth it, but I do see it wasn't a case malfeance of the military leadership by ignoring the problem, as you suggest.

    Now, if September rolls around and we once again get the call to "buy all the admin supplies and new flat screen TVs you can handle because we have to spend the rest of the money in the budget" (the yearly and ridiculous "End of the Fiscal Year" exercises we've all seen before), THEN I may walk into the E-Ring and let them have a piece of my mind on THAT poor planning.
     
  8. KPEngineer

    KPEngineer Eternal Father ...

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    Lets not forget that sequestration was the law for 20 months before it actually went into effect. To say we didn't think was going to happen is saying we expected the law to be changed.

    “We get a certain amount of criticism for not planning more for sequestration,” said Frank Kendall, DoD’s acquisition chief, at a Nov. 5 speech at a government contract management conference in Washington. “We actually are starting to do some planning.”
    Actually starting to do some planning? 16 months after sequestration became law?!?!? You have already failed at that point.

    Actually it was, so said the Chief of Staff of the Army
    “We made the decision in the Department of Defense that we agreed with that we would wait on planning. Frankly, that was because we never thought it was going to be executed,” - Gen. Ray Odierno

    Never thought it was going to be executed???? It was already the law so it was already executed. Don’t get me wrong, Gen. Odierno is one of the better GOs but he dropped the ball here big time along with anyone else who “never thought it was going to be executed”.

    I understand better than most what you don’t seem to think I do. I have been on two, three and four star staffs. I have extensive experience in DOD acquisition, I have been to the Defense Acquisition University and am certified through them at the highest level possible. I have been involved at senior levels with the acquisition of items for every single member of the service for which I worked. I annually spent Millions of dollars (and significantly involved in Billions) on behalf of the taxpayer but I don't put it on my resume ... I list the programs I killed before they started and the money I saved. One of the things that happens is that everyone runs to obligate money as soon as possible in the FY so that it can’t be taken away later. In essence, box yourselves in now to purposely reduce future flexibility. Then when the future gets here, complain that you have no flexibility.

    One thing that was constantly drilled into us is that failure to plan is a plan to fail (I am sure you have heard that one many times yourself). That meant for us that even if your money is in your pocket you better have a ready response to continue to justify it no matter where in the fiscal year you are. You may never need it, but have it in your back pocket. Have PP slides that you can send up with minimal to no editing because you will at some point get a notice that absent justification we are taking your money back. And you can expect that notice to come at 1700 on a Friday and you can expect no more than one hour to respond. The point is, they should have had a plan in their back pocket ready to execute. Sure you can hope for the best, but you better have an alternate plan for the worst on paper and ready to dust off at a moment’s notice. By their own admission, they did not.

    These are the service chiefs, their whole reason for existence is to train and equip. They are in the admin CoC and not the operational Coc so planning for sequestration should have been their #1 priority for 2012. If they did have a plan in their back pocket then they were all lying to congress then and they are lying to you now.

    The DOD/Service can go back to congress and ask to move money between major accounts … i.e. from RnD or MILCON to MILPERS, did any of them do that? Instead they spent almost two years complaining about the “meat cleaver approach” instead of the scalpel. You could have gotten ahead of it but you didn’t and now you have to answer to your troops and sailors and employees who are the ones suffering the consequences of your (in)actions.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2013

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