Amendment may scrap Army's WLMP plans

An amendment attached to the fiscal 2000 Defense Department authorization bill could come close to scuttling the Army's plans to proceed with a $1 billion effort to modernize and outsource the service's wholesale logistics operations.

The amendment, introduced by Rep. James Talent (R-Mo.), who is running for Missouri governor, would preclude the Army Materiel Command from selecting any entity—federal or commercial—to develop and install a computerized Wholesale Logistics Modernization Program until the Army allows its existing computer centers in St. Louis and Chambersburg, Pa., to establish what the amendment termed a "most efficient organization." The amendment also would give those centers two years to set up such organizations.

After two years, the Talent amendment would guarantee that the 550 Army civilian employees who staff the two computer centers would continue to operate old Army legacy logistics systems while a contractor developed and installed a new system.

The Talent amendment brought swift and sharp criticism from organizations that have pushed the Army to outsource its non-critical business functions—that is, practically everything short of waging war and occupying territory—to maximize returns from the slimmed-down, post-Cold War Defense budget. Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, head of Business Executives of National Security, called Talent's amendment "pure pork.... It's terrible. He's not in touch with what's going on in the world."

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