Public-private partnerships essential in saving tax dollars

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Partnering is our past; it is our present and it’s our future," said Lt. Gen. Patricia McQuistion, deputy commanding general, U.S. Army Materiel Command (AMC), during her opening remarks on partnering with the Army.

Partnering opportunities was just one of many topics emphasized at the 2014 Association of the United States Army’s Institute of Land Warfare Winter Symposium and Exposition in Huntsville, Ala.,

"There is no better place to have this discussion than Huntsville, Alabama," McQuisition continued. "We are here in an arena named after Wernher von Braun – a man who understood how partnering could achieve nearly impossible things."

And AMC has taken that same optimistic approach to partnering.

"While the official partnership program has only existed 16 years, we have to continue to grow it to achieve the best results for soldiers today and tomorrow," said McQuisition.

Adding, "The goal is to preserve enhanced and unique organic industrial facilities and a skilled, dedicated workforce, all while providing industry access to these great capabilities."

Each partnership should complement one another. They should not have the exact same capabilities, explained McQuisition. It is in these circumstances that those relationships can go wrong and become competitive, and even adversarial.

While most speeches focus on partnering with defense industry, McQuistion focused on partnership opportunities across the materiel lifecycle.

She addressed the program’s unique challenges and perceptions, as well.

"The problem is we often start partnering way too late, which creates a perception that the Organic Industrial Base will take workload away from the private sector and vice versa," said McQuisition.

The truth actually is that even in a culture of declining budgets, public-private partnerships are still critical and saving taxpayers’ dollars.

In one of the toughest fiscal years in a decade – Fiscal Year 2013 – AMC still executed 300 public private partnerships across AMC’s industrial base, said McQuistion.

"They generated more than $200 million dollars in revenue for our operations, but as important, they created critical work for our skilled artisans," McQuistion said.

McQuistion continued by showing a myriad of success cases such as Corpus Christi Army Depot, Anniston Army Depot and Tobyhanna Army Depot, all of which have successfully partnered with defense partners such as: General Dynamics, Honeywell, Sikorsky, General Motors and Boeing.

"Army Materiel Command has been developing partnerships for many years, and we see this path as our key to success to the future of 2025 and beyond. We’ve studied the characteristics of successful partnerships," said McQuisition.

Adding, "Some of those key characteristics are: establishing long term relationships and commitment, shared vision and objectives, sound business cases, early and continuous involvement of the acquisition communities, senior level advocacy and support, mutual trust and shared risk."

A panel discussion followed with industry and senior leaders on the specifics of partnering now and in the future.