Another attendee agreed with Ryder, saying that far too often it was pointless to submit a proposal to compete for a federally solicited award. In the end, a company has to respond to its shareholders, not to NASA or DOD. He went on to discuss the legitimate roles of the various stakeholders. If the aerospace community could better define these roles, issues related to competition might disappear.
Ryder mentioned that Lockheed Martin works with many universities but tries to avoid involving them in the critical path of technology development. The work of universities lends itself to being reported on once or twice a year, not weekly or monthly, like other projects.
Another question involved legitimate barriers to information sharing. In this connection, Ryder recalled the DOD space-based laser program, which had involved Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. The program ultimately collapsed. One reason was that the technology was not mature enough. A review of the program and the companies revealed that all three were withholding their best work. Ryder said this happened when a company was forced to cooperate with other companies during preliminary technology development that might or might not lead to a prime contract being awarded to one of the cooperating companies. The winner in this type of situation is the company that in the end provides the best price to the government. According to Ryder, this forced cooperation during the precompetitive phase was something that the government should avoid. It is a waste of taxpayer money.
International cooperation and the use of foreign companies were also discussed. Lockheed Martin works with a number of companies in England and some in France. Ryder believed that it was easier to work with global companies now than it had been 3 or 4 years ago, but a lot harder than 10 to 15 years ago. From the large company perspective, this is an area that calls for improvement. The impetus for this improvement must come from the top levels of DOD and NASA. Ryder went on to say that our country’s leadership must understand that if our country is isolated from its allies, problems will develop. A lot of capability exists outside the United States. Ryder suggested that the committee study the number of companies in France that had once had U.S. owners. For example, Equitable Life, a longstanding American-owned firm, is now owned by the French.
Ryder asserted that our nation must move now to develop technology for human and robotic exploration if it is to have a long-term, successful effort in space exploration. He said the scientific and technical community continued to disagree on the International Space Station and the space shuttles, but he believed we might be giving up on something before we had actually done anything with these capabilities. The country has not completed the station’s construction but already it is looking at newer projects that will be more difficult over the long term. According to Ryder, the country should “not give up when the going gets tough” and should have plans for instances when things are not working as originally anticipated. Other countries have great capabilities that we need to use.
Lockheed Martin, as a company, has been concerned about international relationships the last 2 years. Ryder believed that what made this country powerful was that it allowed people from other countries to come here to work and contribute. He was afraid that if the country were to continue down the present path of restrictions on immigration and green cards it would suffer. We might already be seeing negative impacts. The United States