The Department of Defense spends as much on materiel maintenance as the whole world spent last year on smart phones. Over a third of that is depot-level maintenance, the most challenging repairs and overhauls of military systems. As the phrase implies, depot-level maintenance is performed in specialized industrial facilities — either government-owned depots and shipyards or their private-sector equivalents. With demand for new combat systems softening, weapons makers would like to do more of the depot maintenance on equipment that they developed and manufactured. A few companies like Boeing and General Dynamics have been notably successful in structuring mutually beneficial partnerships with federal facilities to share the work. But Congress is determined to direct the lion’s share of depot-level maintenance to government facilities and employees, even if it means forcing the military to pay high prices for services that could have been performed more cost-effectively by original equipment manufacturers. Setting aside maintenance workloads in this fashion has major drawbacks for the federal government and the broader economy. I have written a commentary for Forbes.com that you can read here.
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