(Editor’s note: This article was a submission from freelance writer Mike Doran)
The Army is clogging up what should be a straight-forward process of acquiring a new sidearm with bureaucracy, an article from The Washington Times reports.
For 30 years, the Army has used the Beretta 9 mm, or the M9, as the standard-issued sidearm, but problems with malfunctions during firefights and soldier complaints of high-maintenance needs spurred the Army to search for a replacement firearm.
The Army’s micromanaging, however, has stretched the process into a 10-year nightmare for manufacturers who compete to win a contract. Sen. John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, will be issuing a report on the debacle called “America’s Most Wasted: Army’s Costly Misfire.”
In the report, Mr. McCain calls out the Army on creating difficulties in what should be an easy process, saying they have “managed to create entirely new acquisition problems for what should be a simple, straightforward purchase of a commercially available item.”
In 10 years, the Army has created 350 pages of requirements that demand the new sidearm follow strict rules on minute details like color and making sure that the size of the bore brush and paper size corresponds to existing cleaning kits. McCain calls these rules “unnecessary or anticompetitive.”
And all of this paperwork is adding to the cost per gun, $50 or about $15 million “wasted on paperwork and bureaucracy,” McCain says. But within the 350 pages of requirements there is one seemingly huge omission: there is no specification for caliber.
McCain says that the caliber is likely the most important aspect of the handgun and that not creating a requirement for the caliber will make it impossible for some manufacturers to compete.
“One of the principles of a commercial off-the-shelf acquisition is that the government must be clear on what it is seeking to buy,” he says. “This lack of clarity will likely result in top handgun makers not competing as many of them are not large defense contractors, which means that our soldiers won’t necessarily get the best handgun that commercial industry has to offer.”
But that’s not all, according to the report the Army has also given manufacturers a very short window of fewer than four months to comply with the 350 pages of rules and requirements. They also plan to select the top three competitors by mechanical firings instead of test firings by soldiers.
McCain speculates that the Army already has a manufacturer in mind, what he calls a “preferred outcome.” It would seem that the entire process been nothing but a waste in government spending and a clear example of how bureaucracy can create problems out of thin air.
What do you think: has the government muddled what should have been a simple search for a new sidearm?