June 14, 2018

Cardin to Government Watchdog: How Will Army Restructuring Impact Small Businesses?

Army’s new Futures Command could affect critical science and technology efforts; potentially harm innovative small businesses that support Department of Defense and national security

WASHINGTON – Following a request from U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), the Government Accountability Office (GAO) will investigate the impact a proposed U.S. Army restructuring will have on the Department of Defense’s critical small business research, development, and innovation programs. 

In May, Senator Cardin, the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, asked GAO to examine the Army’s proposed new Futures Command, a modernization initiative reportedly funded by shifting funds out of science and technology programs that work with innovative small businesses.  “It is estimated that 80 percent of funding for research and development programs will be reprogrammed” to pay for this restructuring, which may have a significant impact on small businesses, Senator Cardin wrote GAO. 

GAO has now notified Senator Cardin that it has accepted his request and will review the Army’s decision making process and how the costly new Futures Command may affect the country’s military, national security and the Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR), which increases the utilization of small, high technology firms for federal research and development needs. 

“The Army must have the technology and the tools needed to successfully carry out its national security mission, but we need to know how great a cost the American taxpayers and small businesses will bear for this new ‘Futures’ Command.  Before DoD moves too far down the road, we need a clear picture of how this new program might reshape the way the Pentagon engages with small business suppliers and innovators,” said Senator Cardin.  “I’m pleased GAO will begin this comprehensive review of the new Futures Command and that they will provide Congress with additional details on its goals and full costs.”

Senator Cardin’s letter to GAO is below and HERE

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May 7, 2018

Gene Dodardo

Government Accountability Office

441 G St., NW

Washington, DC 20548                                 

Mr. Dodardo:

The Army’s new Futures Command initiative seeks to address perceived problems with the Army’s development of major combat systems. However, to resource this new command and the Cross Functional Teams that will support it, the Army’s leadership plans to use funds from other science and technology projects. Army Futures Command Cross Functional Teams are intended to manage the Army's six current modernization priorities. Yet the Army has over 800 procurement programs. It is estimated that 80% of funding for research and development programs will be reprogrammed. The defunding and subsequent cancellation of these projects will likely have negative impacts on small businesses nationwide. Therefore, I request a report from the GAO addressing the following questions:

  • How did the Army come to the decision to establish a Futures Command? Did the Army perform studies that led them to this decision? If so, what were they, and what were all of the recommendations made? Why did the Army decide that their current plan is the best option?
  • Did the Army perform studies to determine the impact of a Futures Command on the Defense Industrial Base, the Small Business Innovation Research Program, and on small businesses that support current Army programs? Can the Army provide quantifiable estimates of these impacts?
  • Has the Army conducted a consequential risk assessment to estimate how reshaping multiple organizations will negatively or positively impact the force? If so, what were the results?
  • What metrics will the Army use to determine the success of the Futures Command?
  • Will the DoD and the Army require new or modified legislative authorities to implement the Futures Command plan of action?

If you require additional information regarding this request, please have your staff contact Stephen Ham in my office.

                                                                  Sincerely,

Benjamin L. Cardin

Ranking Member, Small Business Committee

United States Senator

 

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