DOD Intervention Needed to Fully Leverage Partnership Authorities, Paper Says

The military services are increasingly relying on public-private and public-public partnerships (P4s) to enhance the military value of bases and deliver many support services more efficiently, but the Defense Department will need to clarify its authorities and establish implementation procedures to fully promote P4s, according to a new paper published by the National Defense University

“While P4 is not a new concept, it has never received as much attention as it does today as a tool or technique to accomplish DOD missions,” writes author Samuel Bendett. “More practitioners are now being exposed to P4s, and it is expected they will consider them equal to or in lieu of traditional procurement.”

When legislation was first enacted in January 2013 allowing DOD to enter into intergovernmental support agreements with local municipalities, confusion remained among some military stakeholders. DOD’s general counsel and legal opinions within each service created barriers to implementing the new authority effectively, Bendett says.

Participants in a partnership involving Tinker AFB, Okla., suggested the obstacles needed to be overcome by “changing the status quo, not just challenging it,” he writes.

New language in the fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill, however, should alleviate the military’s concerns that installation-community partnerships would need to adhere to the federal rules governing competitive acquisitions.

This isn’t the first time a DOD policy needed to be clarified to promote partnering. The department earlier clarified its interpretation of 10 U.S.C. 2922a to spell out that the services could enter into power purchase agreements of up to 30 years for all types of renewable energy projects. 

The creation of a centralized office to promote public-private and public-public partnerships also can play significant role in spurring their adoption.

“A single centralized DOD public office to facilitate cooperation and procedures between public and private sector agents, regardless of functional objective, may therefore be critical to successful P4s,” Bendett states.

He pointed to the Army’s Office of Energy Initiatives, the Air Force Community Partnership Program and DOD’s Siting Clearinghouse for energy projects as recent examples of new offices helping to further P4s.

“Systemic solutions such as an established DOD P4 expertise center will be needed to achieve the scale required to meet the evolving demands placed on DOD in the new strategic environment,” the paper concludes.


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