Everywhere I go now, all I hear about is the upcoming Armageddon called sequestration. As I visit DoD offices, attend conferences and mingle with my colleagues at breakfasts or in the halls of Government Agencies or Industry Headquarters, we all nervously query each other in hushed voices. “Is your Company planning any lay offs?” “Has your Department discussed how their contracts will be impacted?” Basically, what will it mean to me and to the work I am passionately working on?
Six months ago I would have told you it was just another political play that would drive headlines, not impacts. But as time marches forward and progress does not, I notice some subtle changes in the landscape.
I see no real planning occurring in DoD. Last week, I heard an outstanding talk by Ms. Jenness Simler, Professional Staff on the Committee on Armed Services, as she explained, from the perspective of the House of Representatives, the course ahead and our options. She expressed the frustration of the House that DoD is not preparing detailed plans. In August I heard Frank Kendall, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics tell a room crowded with small business owners in San Diego that DoD will not waste it’s time preparing a plan for automated spending cuts that are inherently devoid of reason or planning. If such a “plan” could be created, he mused, it would give the illusion that Sequestration was, in fact, implementable.
When President Obama rightly declared that military personnel accounts should be excluded from sequestration, absent any other congressional actions, the pool of eligible “sequestable” accounts became smaller and the percent of cuts within this pool became larger. It’s math.
Six months ago I would have said this would not be acceptable to the American public. But as we wrestle with our national debt and the drawdown in Iraq and Afghanistan, the public sentiment is shifting, and outside DoD, I believe tolerance for these cuts is increasing.
Know this: without an action from Congress, sequestration will happen. Also know this: without a plan, it will be arbitrary and chaotic and will undo the past decade of careful DoD planning.