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White Paper Series 

This White Paper Series will be a central focus of our work to inject ideas into the government contracting ecosystem and identify potential solutions for vexing challenges facing the community. We are very excited to launch this White Paper Series and we look forward to your feedback and ideas for future topics in this series.

No. 1. Unintended Consequences of Small Business Contracting, Craig Reed [PDF]

No. 2. Pricing Intellectual Property in Defense Competitions: Toward Theoretical and Practical Advice for Government Officials and Government Contractors, James Hasik [PDF]

No. 3. The Cost of Saving Money: The Negative Impact of Roller Coaster DoD Funding, Jennifer Taylor [PDF]

No. 4. The Value of Intellectual Property in Government Procurement Auctions, James Hasik [PDF]

No. 5. The DoD Budget Process: The Next Frontier of Acquisition Reform, Eric Lofgren [PDF]

No. 6. Building Resilience: Mobilizing the Defense Industrial Base in an Era of Great-Power Competition, Jerry McGinn [PDF]

No. 7. What Future for Remote Work in Federal Contracting? James Hasik [PDF]

No. 8. Building Industrial Resilience with a Little Help from Our Friends: Adapting DoD Acquisition Processes to Facilitate Allied and Partner Engagement, Jerry McGinn [PDF]

The Center welcomes comments and suggestions for additional topics of research. These ideas may be sent to govcon@gmu.edu.

 

No. 1. Unintended Consequences of Small Business Contracting – [PDF]

Craig R. Reed, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow, Center for Government Contracting

Craig has over 35 years of experience in government contracting leadership roles, working in firms providing systems, solutions, and services to the U.S. Federal Government across defense, intelligence, and Federal Civilian agency markets. From the paper:

The Small Business Runway Extension Act . . . brings to light the broader issues surrounding set-aside contracting policies. While the social and economic objectives of small business policy are certainly admirable, they may not be rational from an economic or technical standpoint and may have unintended consequences in terms of job creation, value creation for their founders/owners, and mission effectiveness.

In this examination, Craig provides recommendations for other ways to achieve similar social policy objectives while mitigating the adverse effects of these unintended consequences, and he suggests areas for further research.

No. 2. Pricing Intellectual Property in Defense Competitions: Toward Theoretical and Practical Advice for Government Officials and Government Contractors – [PDF]

James Hasik, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow, Center for Government Contracting

James Hasik has been studying global security challenges and the economic enterprises that provide the tools to address them for decades. From the paper:

The ownership of the intellectual property (IP) underlying the design of complex weapon systems has been at issue—between governments and their contractors—for over a century. In the United States, federal policy has directed several cycles of attention, both positive and negative, on the relative need to acquire these IP rights.

James has designed a model of defense procurement competitions to examine the difference on pricing IP between the government and government contractors, and how that difference can be reduced.

No. 3. The Cost of Saving Money: The Negative Impact of Roller Coaster DoD Funding – [PDF]

Jennifer Taylor
Senior Fellow, Center for Government Contracting

Jennifer Taylor is a recognized civil–military relations and security sector institutional capacity building expert. She most recently served as professional staff on the Section 809 Panel evaluating federal acquisition regulations. From the paper:

In the current configuration, the peaks and troughs of defense procurement obscure the true causes of cost increases and inefficiencies. The current cycle of temporarily cutting defense budgets only to suffer increased costs on the backend of those cuts is inefficient and shortsighted.

Jennifer details the effect of these budget swings on readiness for Department of Defense operations as well as the impact on the contractors who engage on these efforts.

In releasing these White Papers, the Center also gratefully acknowledges the work of its Senior Fellows who wrote them. Through research, writing and discussion, Center Senior Fellows champion matters of interest to the government contracting community. These Fellows add a rich practitioner component for the School of Business to better understand and support the GovCon industry.

No. 4. The Value of Intellectual Property in Government Procurement Auctions - [PDF]

James Hasik, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow, Center for Government Contracting

James Hasik has been studying global security challenges and the economic enterprises that provide the tools to address them for decades. Overview of the paper:

The IP stakes are high, for “if government holds the IP rights too tightly, exercise of power can damage industry’s incentives for innovation, potentially limiting the flow of those innovations to the military.” On the other hand, if the government fails to leverage its rights, it can leave money on the table in follow-on awards for the same materiel.

Where the government owns the IP rights to their designs, even sole-source incumbents might be expected to use limit-pricing—maintaining lower margins than expected—to discourage further competitions, maintaining at least some of that margin. To test this proposition, Hasik undertakes a focused comparison of two recent programs by Oshkosh Corporation for military, medium-weight trucks: the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) for the US Army and the Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement (MTVR) for the US Marine Corps.

His findings suggest the opposite: prices can rise sharply after competitively awarded contracts expire, whether the government owns the IP rights or not. Thus, securing advantageous pricing over the long-term through IP rights requires a credible threat by government to move away from sole-source, follow-on awards.

No. 5. The DoD Budget Process: The Next Frontier of Acquisition Reform [PDF]

Eric Lofgren
Fellow, Center for Government Contracting

Eric Lofgren performs research on business, policy, regulatory, and other issues in government contracting.

Behind the flurry of defense management reform in the last half of the 2010s lies the desire for speed and agility. Tremendous change has come to policies on acquisition, contracting, requirements, and workforce. Remaining untouched is the next frontier of acquisition reform: the budgeting process.

The landscape is starting to change.

  • In May 2020, the Space Force released a report to Congress arguing that it's “most important” recommendation was to consolidate budget line items into capability portfolios.
  • The FY 2021 budget request also featured the first use of a "colorless" appropriation for software programs.
  • Impacting these efforts is the specter of the border wall reprogramming, causing Congressional appropriators to move away from budget flexibility.

In this paper, Lofgren charts a course for the future of budgeting informed by the history of government's financial management. He argues that budget lines should be consolidated by mission-driven organizations, enabling senior leaders to exercise portfolio management. The new scheme should result in greater levels of transparency and accountability.

No. 6. Building Resilience: Mobilizing the Defense Industrial Base in an Era of Great-Power Competition, Jerry McGinn [PDF]

Jerry McGinn
Executive Director, Center for Government Contracting

Published in coordination with The Heritage Foundation, this paper provides an expansive review of the U.S. defense industrial base from World War I to today, the vital importance of a robust and secure industrial base, and how that base is being used to face the COVID pandemic.

No. 7. What Future for Remote Work in Federal Contracting? James Hasik [PDF]

James Hasik, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow, Center for Government Contracting

At this juncture, we can have some confidence about what the past few decades and the past year have taught us. Remote work has been a long time coming, but remote work mostly works. It is certainly less expensive than commuting to central offices. The crisis has provided a great opportunity, and the broad enthusiasm for remoteness may be developing some permanence. Many contractors are already embracing the practice formally and with lasting effect. What is less clear is what breadth and permanence federal agencies will allow, at least in their on-site contractors, and on contracts where work locations are geographically restricted.

The degree to which remote work will continue depends on the following factors: legitimization, shaping, and timing.

  • Legitimizing the new practices, even against a backdrop of questionable old practices, means making them “socially, culturally, and politically acceptable,” here within the particular context of federal contracting. Legitimization of a market practice can be seen as a three-step process: unfreezing the current equilibrium, moving it to a new equilibrium, and then refreezing it there, at least for the near-term. Public reaction to the pandemic quickly unfroze the widespread acceptance of tacit discouragement of remote work. The task for contractors enthused about remote workforces is to prevent backsliding by federal contracting officers to old demands.
  • Shaping the market means inducing transformational learning across the market—learning which changes their organizations’ view of what is possible in the markets—by both customers in government and providers in industry. In business-to-government marketing, shaping the institutional practices of organizationally complex procurement bureaucracies can require great investment of time in creating facts on the ground
  • In market-shaping, timing can also be important. Office work, airline travel, and mass transit have clearly been affected cyclically, and possibly transformed secularly, at least in the private sector. We may be in a long stretch of a lingering, undulating response to a pandemic that substantially affects the willingness of people to work alongside one another. How quickly that willingness will return, and how much of it will return, after the widespread availability of a presumably efficacious vaccine remains to be seen.

No. 8. Building Industrial Resilience with a Little Help from Our Friends: Adapting DoD Acquisition Processes to Facilitate Allied and Partner Engagement [PDF]

Jerry McGinn, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Center for Government Contracting

This paper outlines specific measures that the Department of Defense and Congress can undertake to help build U.S. industrial resilience through close cooperation with allies and partners. This White Paper is particularly timely given the White House Supply Chain 100-day report in response to EO 14017, “America’s Supply Chain,” which came out last week. The report emphasizes the importance of working with U.S. allies and partners, “The United States cannot address its supply chain vulnerabilities alone...We must work with America’s allies and partners to strengthen our collective supply chain resilience...” McGinn's Paper outlines some proposals to do just that.