With nearly 300 active ships, the U.S. Navy is by far the world’s largest—larger, in fact, than the next 13 navies combined. Although the Navy does operate its own shipyards, they are not equipped to handle all of the maintenance and repair requirements to maintain a Fleet of this size. Therefore, given the oscillating requirements for ship-repair work, the Navy routinely contracts out a portion of its ship-repair work during peak workloads. This process has benefited the Navy by acquiring technology and management skills that it might not otherwise possess while maintaining a fully employed and qualified workforce. However, if the Navy fails to provide proper quality oversight and a contractor is not effectively monitored, the results can be devastating to the government.
When Quality Slips
Cost overruns in the billions, construction fiascoes, and a vexing dearth of oversight—welcome to the troubled world of Navy ship contracts.
By Neil A. Pettigrew