Rebuilding the Workforce
Historically, the contributions of Navy laboratories have allowed the service to get best-cost and acceptable risk in applying emerging technologies and performance improvements to weapon systems. Such in-house capabilities can bring quasi-competitive market forces to bear in sole-source situations. They can also provide stop-gap, limited production products when commercial sources are unavailable, as well as the emerging urgent solutions needed by warfighters. The “in-house” role helps to ensure the preservation of the underlying knowledge of our weapon systems and components. This is extremely important, as industry tends to only maintain such expertise if it is funded to do so; if not, it is deemed a luxury, and important information is lost. Thus, costly lessons must be re-learned in future procurements. Finally, a strong government technical team can provide a safety valve when industry decides to no longer support older weapon systems still in the field. A knowledgeable, skilled, and stable workforce embodies these roles and underpins the balance needed between government and industry, and it is at risk.