Stillman touts performance-based business

U.S. Coast Guard

Rear Admiral Patrick Stillman, executive officer for the Coast Guard Deepwater program, extolled the virtues of performance-based acquisitions while stressing that federal government and industry partners must have an open business relationship to succeed.

"Make no mistake about it, this is absolutely the right way to do business," Stillman said today at the Performance Based Acquisitions Conference in Tysons Corner, Va. "Success is not guaranteed, but it's right where it should be — in the hands of the practitioners."

Under performance-based contracts, payment is contingent on vendors meeting specific service targets. Stillman pointed to several keys to making them succeed:

* Visualizing long-term and short-term objectives

* Organizational support, or top cover

* Maintaining a trusting relationship between partners that allows for the sharing and support of an overall vision.

"We're taking a network-centric approach to give the public a more efficient Coast Guard in the future," Stillman said.

Government and industry partners must "work together, labor together and suffer together" to provide the best value for the public, Stillman said.

Agencies should look toward the future while ruthlessly executing present objectives, he said.

"If you don't have an eye on the result, you're going to fail," Stillman said. "You must look at the outcome rather than the habits of the past."

Deepwater is the Coast Guard's multibillion dollar performance-based approach to upgrading its fleet and transitioning to newer, more capable platforms. The Coast Guard's fleet contains more than 90 cutters and 200 airplanes.

While describing the challenges of the Deepwater program, Stillman stressed the necessity for good communication between partners.

"You must take time to truly communicate," Stillman said. "Even, if appropriate, at the expense of schedule."

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