Joe provided another perspective on several of the questions that had been directed to Welby earlier in the discussion. On the subject of TRLs and risk management, he said that while Northrop Grumman did not apply this “formula” corporation-wide, he knew it did so in the new business area. As new programs are being developed, management asks program managers to determine what TRLs should be assigned to certain technologies within a specific project or system. After this has been done, the managers look at the technologies required for the program and determine whether they should be advanced internally or purchased from an external source. As the program is implemented, a risk management process is used to monitor technology maturity. Health metrics are used to assess the risk for a technology. Managers attempt to keep the risk as low as possible so that the consequences will be minimal as the technology is implemented.
Joe also addressed the small business issue from the Northrop Grumman perspective. The company has received awards not only from NASA but also from DOD for its small business program. The company’s chief executive officer stresses the use of small business. Joe also said that the company tried to solicit technology from nontraditional suppliers that were not part of DOD’s program.
Northrop Grumman has its own research and development (R&D) effort. The technology being matured from this effort is evaluated for use in a specific program after determining what the technology will do and what the ultimate goal of the program is. The R&D effort also bases its decision on what it believes the government will be funding in the future and on whether the government will be a customer for a specific technology.
Moderator Walker began the Question-and-Answer Period by asking Joe to elaborate on (1) any unique contract forms used during the J-UCAS program to engage any suppliers or teammates and (2) any contractual mechanisms that were utilized to expedite deliveries. Joe responded that during development of the proposal and agreement, Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney had already been teaming with Northrop Grumman in different ways. For these partners, management did not employ the standard process but treated them as members of the corporation itself; both had a process through which they obtained required approval. However, Northrop Grumman basically provided a cost estimate for each part of the proposal and told Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney that this was what was going to be included in the proposal for their part of the work. Representatives of the two companies informally acknowledged that they agreed on the estimates and would attempt to obtain official management approval.
Joe went on to describe Northrop Grumman’s use of preferred suppliers, for which there were various criteria and qualifications. These preferred suppliers are included in the company’s strategy and vision and are told what products the company is planning to pursue. They would also have an opportunity to bid on everything that Northrop Grumman pursues.
Walker continued his questioning by asking Joe to discuss the sharing of proprietary information between companies in this kind of program and the arrangements for and