Sunday, October 25, 2009

DOD contracting: it's quiet out there; too quiet

Posted by John Keller

There seems to be a lull in technology-related contracting at the U.S. Department of Defense over the past week. A scan of the bluetops shows days on end with just one or two awards of consequence to the aerospace and defense electronics community. Makes me a little nervous.

Not a lot to report out there. The Navy's about to pull the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise out of the water to scrape off the barnacles and repaint the hull. If you're looking for excitement, that's about it.

It's not to say nothing's going on; there are a few solicitations out there. The Air Force is looking for ways to keep UAVS from crashing into each other. DARPA wants a UAV that stays up for five years. The Coast Guard wants a WMD-detecting radio network, and the Army wants a vehicle-mounted sensor that tells where the enemy snipers are.

Still, the lack of contract volume seems strange.

Makes me wonder what's going on -- or not. Doesn't seem like a normal lull in contract activity to me. That usually happens with a gradual slowing of contracting, not a sudden dropoff like we saw this past week.

Walk out away from the campfire at night, you usually hear crickets and other night sounds, not silence. When the crickets stop chirping and an ominous silence descends, then it's usually time to pay attention; something's about to happen. Could be good, could be bad, but you had better keep a clear eye, nonetheless.

I wouldn't be surprised to see a flurry of activity come up soon. Then again, might this be the beginning of a long-term slowdown? I wish I could tell you for sure. All I can advise is we had better pay attention.


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