Interested leaders of the business and defense contractor industries packed in to the Southern Md. Higher Education Center Wednesday, August 4 to discuss issues with NAS Patuxent River with Congressman Steny Hoyer and Delegate John Bohanan. Bohanan called the meeting a “follow-on” to a similar event he hosted in Lexington Park in July and sought help in refining some solutions that could be presented to Navy leadership.
Hoyer told the crowd, “Thank you for all you do every day to make America stronger.” Maintaining a strong defense posture in the “complex, dangerous world we live in,” Hoyer suggested, is critical.
The congressman noted room for improvement, stating the importance of keeping morale of people high both inside and outside of the gate. The key, he said, is finding “the right balance” between in-house availability and outsourcing.
Hoyer explained while facing economic recession, the defense industry must “find ways to do it smarter and better…make our people safer and more effective.” The Navy, he suggested, is looking for ways to save money and by highlighting “what things can be done locally better, more efficiently,” more contracts will be available.
“If you’re not growing, you’re going,” Hoyer stated and told the group while Southern Md. isn’t untouched by the recession, it is relatively insulated, especially when compared to hard-hit states like Ohio and Nevada.
Bohanan talked about the helpful groups and individuals who hope to smooth the rift between those on- and those off-base. Immediate actions, like the base’s plan to hire 100 new people in contracts, he said, “won’t necessarily fix these issues, but it’s a step in the right direction.”
Bohanan said input collected through meetings and informal discussions will be boiled down into a “white paper” and asked for help in refining the draft.
Complaints from contractors ranged from a lack of transparency or feedback from the base to the inexperienced personnel that handle the contracts, causing frustration and delay.
Moving forward, Bohanan said working with the Acquisition Improvement Team and receptive Navy leaders may help the Navy recognize “the need to treat those outside the gate like a full-on partner.”
Those with current contracts with the base were asked to stay and discuss specifics and help shape future actions.
While Hoyer and Bohanan listened to concerns and sought help with solutions, they acknowledged the value of solidifying a good, working relationship is bigger than any one company.
Bohanan told the group, “Remember we’re doing this for the war fighter.”
Hoyer added , “The concentration must be on the end result.”