WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump and Congress are on track to receive recommendations aimed at strengthening the health of the defense-industrial base, a top Pentagon industrial base policy official said Monday.
The guidance is due from a study of the industrial base that Trump ordered in July. Led by a government-spanning task force, working groups have since internally presented interim findings, which identified risks in the industrial base.
“Now we are taking those findings and turning them into recommendations for addressing those risks. We’re still in the process of that, and we’re on track to do that in mid-April,” Jerry McGinn, the principal deputy director for the Defense Department’s office of manufacturing and industrial base policy, said Monday at a New America think tank event.
McGinn declined to discuss the interim findings but told reporters after the event: “We have a lot of known risk areas.”
More than a dozen working groups from across government have been studying the defense-industrial base to recommend ways to cover gaps and weaknesses. Those groups include representatives from the Pentagon and other agencies like the departments of Commerce and Homeland Security.
Some of the working groups are aligned with subsectors like shipbuilding, ground vehicles or radars, while others match cross-cutting topics like the workforce, cybersecurity or electronics, McGinn said.
The second phase of the effort will include a series of simulated stress tests, or war games, for the defense-industrial base, to see how well-prepared certain subsets are to surge in war scenarios.
To feed those models, the plan is to rely on the government’s existing data, and where there are gaps, conduct targeted focus groups, town halls and listening sessions with industry to learn more, according to the Defense Department.
Already the working groups are using data from Bureau of Industry and Security surveys, Bureau of Labor statistics, and DoD industrial base assessments, among other sources.
McGinn left open the option to survey hundreds of defense companies — something industry groups had resisted — at some later time. Survey plans were shelved because the government was running out of time to execute and it already had much of the data it needs, McGinn said.
“We have a wealth of information from across government that we’re using for this analysis,” McGinn said.
Joe Gould was the senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He had previously served as Congress reporter.