Washington State: Planning for the Defense Sector’s Future

June 1, 2016

By: Ashton Allison, consultant, TIP Strategies
USS Abraham Lincoln Returns To Washington

USS Abraham Lincoln Returns to Washington [Image 2 of 2] by Seaman Jerine Lee via DVIDS (Public Domain)

In 2015, TIP Strategies was selected by the Washington Department of Commerce as the lead contractor for multiple phases of the state’s $4.3 million US Department of Defense, Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) grant. The grant was awarded as part of OEA’s Defense Industry Adjustment program, which encompasses a range of planning activities designed to mitigate potential impacts of federal spending cuts on the defense sector.

The initial “Planning & Communication” phase of the grant focused on formalizing the Washington Military Alliance (WMA), a coalition of defense-related stakeholder organizations in the state. Completed in December 2015, this phase included the preparation of an organizational strategy and communications plan for the WMA, along with an inventory of stakeholders and assets. Our 2015 work for the Department of Commerce also included a review of an economic model of the state’s defense industry contracts prepared by a separate firm.

Earlier this year, TIP kicked off projects encompassing three additional phases of the grant. The work will be completed by September 2016 and includes a military and defense contractor services pilot program as well as two closely related projects: a statewide strategy and an implementation and sustainability plan.

  1. The pilot program—currently underway with management consulting firm, Kepner-Tregoe—will assist the state with the design and testing of potential economic diversification strategies specific to the defense services supply chain.
  2. The statewide strategy represents the culmination of OEA-funded planning efforts. When completed, this project will provide a clearly defined roadmap for ensuring the short-term and long-term success of the state’s military and defense sector.
  3. The sustainability plan will integrate the various grant-funded activities with existing state, local, and federal initiatives with the goal of transitioning the effort from OEA-funded support. The report will include an analysis of the alignment of the statewide strategy with Washington’s target industry and talent-focused initiatives, an assessment of the capacity of relevant partners to aid in its implementation, and a review of the state’s business support infrastructure as it relates to the defense sector.

Once all phases of the grant are completed, the results will provide a framework for sustaining the health and vitality of the state’s defense-reliant economy amid potential budget reductions. Taken together, the statewide strategy and sustainability plan will provide a comprehensive blueprint for military and defense contractors and related support organizations to anticipate and mitigate potential losses through effective planning and strategic decision-making.

TIP has conducted numerous projects funded by OEA, including several aimed at convening stakeholders, diversifying the economy, assisting private businesses, retaining displaced workers, and developing sustainability strategies. We have also worked extensively in military-dependent communities throughout the country, and have direct experience with leveraging and supporting this valuable sector.