Our members work closely with corporate and government partners involved in today’s key issues. We provide insights and share expert perspectives on challenges faced around the world today.

How the Trump Administration Can Make Doing Business with the DoD Great Again

Captain Dale Lumme, Navy Team

The incoming Trump administration has stated distinct priorities for making America great again. A top priority of that journey is the ability of the Department of Defense (DoD) to entice innovative companies to do business with the government through a whole range of programs, including initiatives such as Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx). However, some of the foundational deterrents for the aerospace and defense industry doing business with DoD are widespread feelings that they are ignored, misunderstood, or their message is lost in translation.

350 Navy Ships: Real Priority or Trump Campaign Promise?

Admiral Jim Hinkle, Navy Team

President-elect Trump, in outlining his goals for national defense, has established his desire to grow the Navy to 350 ships. The Navy is currently at 272 ships and has offered a 30-year shipbuilding plan that will achieve its goal of 308 ships by 2021. Several obstacles on both the federal and the commercial side lay ahead if this enhanced naval capacity is to be successfully pursued and implemented.

NATO, Foreign Policy and the Incoming Trump Administration

Ellen Wasylina, International Team

NATO’s priorities and perspectives around the EU, even in the wake of Brexit, were reaffirmed at the NATO summit in Warsaw this summer. NATO identified two of its major priorities as maintaining a free and peaceful Europe, and ensuring security in the Euro-Atlantic area. Although it was not discussed directly, the idea pushed by President-elect Trump in the campaign of insisting that all NATO countries pay “their fair share”, or 2% of GDP, could provide more firm backing to these NATO priorities.

Today's Border, Infrastructure, Personnel and Cyber Security Challenges

The Spectrum Group Security Team

Regional political, economic and security challenges require governments and companies to forge strong paths towards security, prosperity and freedom, internally and in partnership with the global community. Border security threats, political unrest, asymmetric environments and rapidly evolving challenges require building and drawing on critical capabilities to anticipate and respond effectively.

The Future of Sustainability in the Trump Administration and Beyond

Colleen Morgan, Karla Perri and Ellen Wasylina, Energy & Environment Team

Sustainability is more than a buzzword. Today’s financial, economic and global realities have made sustainability critically important economically, environmentally, and for national security, including energy, water, and food supply chains. Likewise, the upcoming transition in U.S. administrations looks to be one of high uncertainty in areas of sustainability. Companies can benefit in this transition from expertise in mitigating risk and in identifying and implementing strategic positioning and initiatives.

SPECTRUM ADVANTAGE: EDUCATING TOMORROW'S LEADERS

General David Huntoon, Spectrum Advantage

Today’s business demands require federal industry leaders to drive and inspire growth and success in an increasingly connected and volatile global marketplace. Leaders must successfully manage workforces with diverse technical skills, while facing new digital threats and integrating new technologies and practices. These innovations and challenges continue to grow and evolve the skills required for effective leadership in companies operating in the government market today.

How the Trump Administration Can Make Doing Business with the DoD Great Again

Captain Dale Lumme, Navy Team

Strategic Communications The Spectrum Group

The incoming Trump administration has stated distinct priorities for making America great again. A top priority of that journey is the ability of the Department of Defense (DoD) to entice innovative companies to do business with the government through a whole range of programs, including initiatives such as Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx). However, some of the foundational deterrents for the aerospace and defense industry doing business with DoD are widespread feelings that they are ignored, misunderstood, or their message is lost in translation.

Industry knows it is in trouble when a government civil servant says, “I understand your need to make a profit.” If you need to say it, then you really don’t understand the imperatives business face.

The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) gives government contracting officers “wide latitude to exercise business judgment.” Unfortunately, most contracting officers have little to no experience in private industry, and their business judgment is based on bureaucratic processes and certifications rather than profit and loss. From determining if intellectual property rights are valid to negotiating the amount of profit a contractor should receive, the government’s business judgment is sometimes arbitrarily skewed in the government’s favor.
Arguably, either by intent or because of decades of culture, there exists an inherent adversarial mentality with industry and a clear lack of understanding of why industry needs to prosper and make a profit in order to innovate, let alone survive.

The FAR requires contracting officers to work together as a team with industry and end-users. Unfortunately, the relationship between contracting officer and contractor is rarely described as teamwork. The lack of common understanding between the stakeholders creates a combative relationship that drives delays and increases costs, as each side is wary of the other’s intentions. A less-than-standard commercial-sector profit margin would make defense contractors less competitive in global capital markets, where defense firms compete with the full spectrum of businesses.

One simple solution to the challenge of government’s lack of understanding is to require contracting officers to have relevant private-sector experience. Just as the uniformed military is exploring options to have service members take a sabbatical to pursue private-sector experience, so should the civilian bureaucrats in DoD. This simple step would generate a richer acquisition work force that is better equipped to exercise business judgment appropriately.

Another solution is to have contracting officer warrants approved and renewed by a joint panel of government and private-sector representatives. Such a venue would give industry and DoD acquisition leadership a tangible mechanism to ensure that the people on the front lines of implementing acquisition policy are adhering to published guidance, statute and the spirit in which those are written. This process would facilitate the teamwork between government and industry as envisioned in the FAR, and such a panel would be able to observe general trends, weaknesses and strengths, and be able to make broader, informed recommendations for systematic improvement.

There is no magic bullet to make DoD the customer of choice for Silicon Valley. However, if DoD had contracting officers and program managers with vast private-sector experience, they would see that many of the regulations they are required to adhere to fly in the face of commercial best practices and certainly defy the concept of teamwork.

For example, in the very same section of the FAR that charges contracting officers to negotiate acceptable terms with contractors in exchange for transferring data rights to the government, they are first directed to consider alternatives — such as reverse engineering the contractor’s product — or cherry-picking relevant specs and using them to acquire or develop functionally equivalent items.

Thus, the government clearly states its intent to either reverse engineer your product or provide some of your technical specifications to your competition. That is not a business environment in which any vendor wants to operate.

Small innovative companies, whose owners have invested their time, talent, hearts and indeed their very own personal financial livelihoods, have learned quickly that doing business with the federal government bureaucracy is not conducive to a thriving business.

The taxpayers deserve a defense establishment that is held to the same business standards as the rest of America. Requiring private-sector experience for acquisition professionals and allowing industry to retain its intellectual property would increase the level of trust between industry and government and attract innovative companies to do business with DoD.

Retired Navy Capt. Dale Lumme is president of the Navy League of the United States, National Capital Council; maritime adviser at The Spectrum Group; immediate past chairman of the National Maritime Policy Committee; and a member of Veterans for Acquisition Accountability.

Read this article in The Washington Times

350 Navy Ships: Real Priority or Trump Campaign Promise?

Admiral Jim Hinkle, Navy Team

Navy Team

President-elect Trump, in outlining his goals for national defense, has established his desire to grow the Navy to 350 ships. The Navy is currently at 272 ships and has offered a 30-year shipbuilding plan that will achieve its goal of 308 ships by 2021. Several obstacles on both the federal and the commercial side lay ahead if this enhanced naval capacity is to be successfully pursued and implemented.

The Chief of Naval Operations recently testified before Congress that he is in the midst of a new force structure study that is expected to raise the Navy’s ship count goal. However, that plan has yet to be released.

Several road blocks may deter growth even if a viable plan is submitted and the new Trump administration allocates significant funds to this priority. It is unclear that the industrial base – i.e., the private shipyards – would be capable of handling the increased load that this higher goal would require. Similarly, consideration would need to be given to limitations component manufacturers may impose for such items as screws, propellers, reduction gears, diesel engines, generators, etc. There is significant concern that budgetary allocations alone cannot solve the problem, unless they are accompanied by significant – perhaps prohibitive – investment in the shipbuilding industrial base.

On the other hand, however, the Shipbuilding Council of America believes that the industrial base is capable of supporting a 350-ship Navy, but adds that short-term Continuing Resolutions (CRs) make it too difficult for companies to plan longer-term projects. An SCA representative shared that shipbuilders “are looking for some flexibility in their funding mechanisms, such as advance procurement buys, incremental funding, or multi-year funding.” He noted that “these elements are critical for industry, enabling block buys of supplies.”

Assuming the increase from the current goal of 308 ships to 350 ships can be built into the Navy’s 30-year shipbuilding plan as the Congressional Research Service has projected, the increase would entail “only” an additional one to two ships to be constructed per year. However, these ships will not be showing up tomorrow in the U.S.’s global capabilities. Conservative estimates on the timeline from appropriation to pier-side delivery for the average Navy vessel are nearly seven years per ship.

NATO, Foreign Policy and the Incoming Trump Administration

Ellen Wasylina, International Team

NATO EU Country Spending 2015

NATO’s priorities and perspectives around the EU, even in the wake of Brexit, were reaffirmed at the NATO summit in Warsaw this summer. NATO identified two of its major priorities as maintaining a free and peaceful Europe, and ensuring security in the Euro-Atlantic area. Although it was not discussed directly, the idea pushed by President-elect Trump in the campaign of insisting that all NATO countries pay “their fair share”, or 2% of GDP, could provide more firm backing to these NATO priorities.

For the former, NATO announced more support to Ukraine and Georgia, as well as continued assistance to the Republic of Moldova. Plans also included a deepened engagement with Black Sea, Baltic Sea, and Western Balkans regional partners. NATO also pledged to maintain critical operations in Kosovo.

In terms of the latter, NATO announced that it is “stepping up” NATO-EU cooperation to defend national security from hybrid threats, including operations in the Mediterranean and in supporting partner nations in building their own national security capacities.

President-elect Trump’s statement that NATO countries failing to pay the 2% of GDP towards defense should step up and meet their obligations would potentially increase the total annual contributions to NATO by US$97B per year, representing 10.8% of the current total budget. The U.S. currently contributes the highest percentage of GDP of all NATO countries, at 3.6% or US$650B. Were the U.S. to only match the rate of the highest E.U. country’s contribution – Greece, at 2.5% of GDP – NATO’s overall annual budget would be reduced by US$199B.

If President-elect Trump pursues the effort to increase EU-country NATO contributions, a likely approach would be to first ask the founding members of the EU and NATO, including France, Germany, Italy and Turkey, to do so. The U.S. could also potentially invite or encourage Sweden and Finland to join NATO, as discussed at the NATO summit in Warsaw, which could bring in additional revenue, and better arm and position the EU and NATO in the Arctic.

Today's Border, Infrastructure, Personnel and Cyber Security Challenges

The Spectrum Group's Security Team

Regional political, economic and security challenges require governments and companies to forge strong paths towards security, prosperity and freedom, internally and in partnership with the global community. Border security threats, political unrest, asymmetric environments and rapidly evolving challenges require building and drawing on critical capabilities to anticipate and respond effectively.

The Spectrum Group works with many clients who face interrelated security challenges, often spanning border security, infrastructure security and personnel security, and who are seeking cost-effective and comprehensive security solutions that will support sustained economic and global diplomatic success.

Our Security team understands that an integrated approach is required to build all dimensions of security capabilities, including border security, homeland security and public safety. We focus on helping clients integrate these critical and diverse security elements, including military, law enforcement, personnel, equipment and technology. Working with clients’ baseline security capabilities and technologies, we perform targeted capability gap analyses and draw on our team’s expertise as well as partnerships with IT, training, and professional equipment industry leaders to map a path forward to meet target capabilities. Our multidimensional assessment and capacity-building solution focuses on four critical arenas:

  • Understanding the Threat Environment: We work closely with clients to gain an in-depth understanding of the country’s and/or company’s threats and priorities, including diplomatic relations and challenges, government status, territorial and tribal entities, and cyber, threat finance, trafficking and other security challenges. We then work with clients to assess and identify current assets and programs, government and company support for new programs and efforts, potential international supporting partners, and budget available to accomplish objectives. We then use this assessment to build an actionable and cost-effective strategic plan for the client.
  • Infrastructure: We work with the client to assess, to the level possible, current and desired intelligence integration capacities, field operations, air and marine support, international coordination and participation, and emergency/disaster preparedness and management. We also identify equipment assets and accompanying trained personnel (current and needed) that will most effectively promote client goals.
  • Personnel: We work with the client to identify current capabilities of trained personnel, and looking at client security goals, perform both a gap analysis and can build a roadmap to meeting target numbers of specific personnel (e.g., law enforcement, border patrol agents, specialists, pilots, enforcement officers, intelligence officers). If requested by the client, TSG can perform a gap analysis of current screening, detection, and intelligence tools and capabilities, and help make effective recommendations on the most high-priority personnel training and security technologies a country or company should focus on gaining. We also identify air and marine capabilities that will be most efficient in a country meeting its security targets.
  • Border Security and Intelligence Integration: While clients have diverse levels of, protocols around and programs for intelligence, including highly sensitive security programs, TSG is experienced in helping ensure the best possible integration of those screening and intelligence technologies into client border, infrastructure and personnel security operations. By better understanding the outputs, usages and integrations of various security technologies, our clients can best use their existing technologies, as well as determine additional technologies that may help them best meet their objectives. Our goal is to help clients invest, construct, and design programs better and more cost-effectively to meet their security goals.

As an example, TSG looked at the budget breakdown of the U.S. Department of Justice Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency, with a total budget of US$19.5 billion. The intent of this point of reference is to present a broad idea of the dollars and resources involved, as well as their allocation.

CBP 2015 Budget Allocation The Spectrum Group

The Future of Sustainability in the Trump Administration and Beyond

Colleen Morgan, Karla Perri and Ellen Wasylina, Energy & Environment Team

Sustainability is more than a buzzword. Today’s financial, economic and global realities have made sustainability critically important economically, environmentally, and for national security, including energy, water, and food supply chains. Likewise, the upcoming transition in U.S. administrations looks to be one of high uncertainty in areas of sustainability. Companies can benefit in this transition from expertise in mitigating risk and in identifying and implementing strategic positioning and initiatives.

While most companies are aware that sustainability is an important element of corporate best practices, executive decision-makers benefit most from expertise on what targets and goals would be most relevant to their company, as well as having in hand an implementable plan for achieving these goals, as well as a comprehensive identification of costs, benefits and resources required.

TSG’s Sustainability Team provides clients with an essential impartial, expert assessment, with our experts providing information about federal regulations, global financial trends, and business bottom-line benefits that clients may or may not have considered with regards to implementing a sustainability plan. By meeting in-person with client staff and executive leadership, visiting client sites, and reviewing sustainability-related practices and facilities, TSG is able to advise on practices and policies that can be altered or adopted, both immediately and over the longer term, to create better sustainability practices by the client and client personnel.

The Trump Transition leaves open many questions in areas of sustainability. TSG’s Sustainability Team offers clients an opportunity to proactively develop and grow with a focus on sustainability in support of strategic growth, increased shareholder value and best practices.

SPECTRUM ADVANTAGE: EDUCATING TOMORROW'S LEADERS

General David Huntoon, Spectrum Advantage

Today’s business demands require federal industry leaders to drive and inspire growth and success in an increasingly connected and volatile global marketplace. Leaders must successfully manage workforces with diverse technical skills, while facing new digital threats and integrating new technologies and practices. These innovations and challenges continue to grow and evolve the skills required for effective leadership in companies operating in the government market today.

When TSG is working with private or public-sector clients who are aware they need leadership development support, there may be specific challenges the client wants to address – such as better preparing leaders for a corporate change, e.g., building business in a new country – as well as longer-term focuses the client wants to support, such as building a pipeline of middle management that will be better equipped to lead, both today and in the future, as executives. We work closely with clients to identify specific goals and focuses, and build a customized curriculum to maximize client benefit while delivering cost- and time-effective training solutions.

Using best practices in adult learning and leadership training, TSG’s Spectrum Advantage team employs multiple approaches, including field learning, case studies, applied learning and peer interaction, to deliver comprehensive solutions for long-term client value and organizational success. We build focused programs for entry-level leaders and managers, for rising mid-tier leaders about to join the executive ranks, and for the most senior enterprise leaders. For all clients, this includes tying together a customized program spanning interactive discussions with our exceptional faculty, client-specific case studies, and other highly-effective educational means to cultivate successful leadership in client organizations.

Spectrum Advantage draws on TSG members’ own experiences as global executives, military leaders, and highly-regarded speakers to build and deliver maximal-impact training. Because we know how critically important it is for organizational success, we focus on transforming leadership thought patterns and practices through engagement and stimulation of internal motivation.

We focus on creating the innovative leaders that companies and government entities today know they need.