FOSE Keynote Address

Remarks By Robert J. Stevens
Chairman, President and CEO,
Lockheed Martin Corporation
Washington, DC - 03/07/2006

Good morning.  I would like to thank the organizers of FOSE for the invitation to be here with you this morning.  For many years, we have very much admired the work done at this conference, and it’s an honor to have this opportunity to discuss with such a thoughtful and experienced audience the critical issues that increasingly confront our community – and our country.

Many of you in this room are our customers.  Others are colleagues and valued partners ... and some are competitors.  But I have long felt that we, collectively, are engaged in a truly remarkable enterprise because, irrespective of these relationships, we place mission first.  There are few endeavors where the public sector and the private sector work so closely, on a sustained basis, with constancy of purpose, dedicated to improving the safety, security, and well-being of American citizens.  These are great and important missions, and I’m exceedingly proud to be part of this process ... and I thank you for your perseverance and the many sacrifices you each have made in pursuit of this common cause.

It’s only by pure happenstance that two days ago marked the 60th anniversary of the address that Winston Churchill gave at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, on March 5th, 1946.  Its title was “The Sinews of Peace” ... but most people remember it as the “Iron Curtain” speech.  It vividly described with unparalleled eloquence the peril associated with the expansion of international Communism and totalitarian control.

As an early bellwether of the emerging threat, it was a landmark of the second half of the last century.  It was regarded by British politicians as the most important speech ever delivered by the leader of the Opposition government, and by Russian historians as the date marking the commencement of the Cold War.

I bring it up today because, for me, it set an important milestone for measuring the rate of change in our ability to diagnose, communicate, and internalize the evolution of the global security context.

Delivered only six months after the end of World War II unsurprisingly, its message was not immediately nor uniformly well-received.  We can appreciate that after three years and eight months of conflict, America was exhausted by war and had little appetite for new difficulties and dangers.  But those difficulties and dangers were very real and the process of accommodation was gradual, progressive, and time-consuming.  It seems the very character of identifying emerging threats reinforces the high degree of difficulty associated with our collective ability to predict the future security environment with any degree of accuracy.  It emphasizes the extraordinary need for vigilance, preparedness, and flexibility, and underscores the huge demands we place on those who serve so ably in government institutions.

It is also reassuring to note that, despite the uncertainty and anxiety and initial difficulty in making accurate and reliable assessments of changing circumstances, we did redefine America’s security imperatives, we did reshape the mission, and we did adapt, over the span of 50 years to defeat global Communism.  We did so with confidence and character, while simultaneously building strong institutions and a vibrant economy at home.

So it seems today, in this post-Communist era, that we are again at an inflection point – in that period of great uncertainty that occurs perhaps once or twice a century - where we are compelled to redefine our security imperatives – and by every measure, it is proving to be a much more complex world than existed a half-century ago. 

If Communism was, in the main, more monolithic in character and substance, think of the diversity of challenges circumscribed in even a short list of global security considerations lifted from today’s headlines:

  • Will we see continued progress in Afghanistan, stability in Iraq, sanity in North Korea
  • Can a meaningful dialogue ever be established with Iran?
  • How can lasting peace and prosperity finally be brought to the Middle East?
  • What contingencies would be appropriate for us to consider for a resurgent Russia ... an emergent China?
  • Does the shadowy nature of transnational terrorism provide concealment as it expands its reach around the globe?

And ... of course, American citizens today also have a more expansive view of the conditions that impact their security including concerns right  here at home:

  • Will adequate resources be in place, able to respond to natural disasters or pandemics?
  • What must be done to assure our boarders, ports, roadways and airways remain safe and secure while facilitating a productive economy?
  • Can our critical infrastructure be adequately protected?
  • Will a full range of social services be available for future generations?
  • Will America lose its edge in science and technology?

Against this backdrop, our missions now are more multi-faceted and interwoven:  We must provide the openness of a democracy with the security of a sovereign state; improve transparency and access while assuring privacy protection; enhance collaboration within a framework of appropriate controls; and increase efficiency and effectiveness while decreasing cost.

We are entrusted with nothing less than the responsibility to protect our citizens in assuring freedom from danger and aggression from sources both familiar and new; facilitating our Nation’s economic well-being by supporting commerce and trade in an increasingly global marketplace; advancing the horizons of exploration and scientific discovery; and strengthening our social fabric through the delivery of needed support and services in an environment of rapidly expanding demands.

Nothing less will do.

These objectives, that must be addressed simultaneously, demand much of us.  Happily, we do have resources to bring to bear on these challenges and, as our presence here at FOSE validates, access to information is central and has never been more important.  We no longer have the luxury of accumulating “mass” ... the process takes too long, costs too much, and results in limited flexibility with very few degrees of freedom.  The value, the leverage, comes from superior knowledge. 

Technologically, I am confident we are well into the information age.  But culturally and behaviorally, I think less so.  While getting and sharing knowledge is key, let me suggest that starting with a discussion of technology is starting with the wrong priority.  New security formulations require new responses.  I believe we are well served to first reassess the overall concepts of our operations to assure that we are in tight alignment with 21st century risks and opportunities.

For example, with regard to information flow, particularly sensitive information, we need to add a new element to our familiar practices, expanding “the need to know” to include “the need to share.”  For some, understandably, this is an unnatural act, the very concept being at odds with decades of doctrine.  In the 21st century, it’s the holy grail. 

To the extent that our organizations may need to be realigned to support a refined networked approach, let’s realign them.  To the extent that our behaviors need to adapt to promote sharing, let’s incentivize those that will most likely drive success.  And to the degree that our cultures need to evolve, extracting the strength of our individual heritage and history while focusing all energy on our new, collective responsibilities, let’s set the conditions for that change.

In our experience within Lockheed Martin through a decade of defense consolidation, with more than 20 companies consolidated and far fewer challenges than face our government customers, I know these difficulties firsthand.  I have found it is often very hard to constructively embrace discussions of organization or behavior or culture in a fashion that fully celebrates earned accomplishments while addressing the shortcomings that can be associated with boundaries or missed communications or turf.  The people in our organizations rightly deserve recognition for their good work, but 300 million American citizens also rely on us to effectively and rapidly adapt to new demands in their interest.

Our organizations are necessarily complex, and it takes genuine, professional management skill to deal with all the moving parts, and we’re fortunate to have great managers.  But change in the enterprise is driven by leadership – yours and mine.  And not just any approach will do.  We require “Full Spectrum Leadership” – the ability to shape the future, build effective relationships, energize the team, get results, and model personal excellence and integrity.  With the stakes high and the consequences of failure great, now is the time for us to act.

With a sound concept of operations in mind, appropriate service-oriented system architectures become critical.  This audience knows full well the essential dimensions:  open, scalable, robust, interoperable, secure.  The time that we spend in refining our understanding of requirements is time very well spent.  In almost every “lessons learned” assessment of what went right and what went wrong with our programs, including those evaluations conducted by independent non-advocate review teams, defining and controlling requirements correlated strongly with program success.  When requirements are firm and well understood, cost estimating is more realistic and accurate, and schedule development has greater fidelity, leading to the likelihood of greater funding stability.  Resources are allocated more efficiently, overall costs are lower, systems are deployed sooner, and expectations are more likely to be met.  As I said, time very well spent.

Success also demands a close and continuous collaboration between government customers and their business partners.  Here, I do have a degree of concern today, not because I fear a fundamental flaw or intrinsic incapacity, but more due to pressures in the acquisition environment.  Take the recent expressions of concern regarding procurement integrity.  This is a serious matter, and these expressions are legitimate and justified. 

The process of Federal acquisition is based on integrity and, in no small measure, trust, which must be earned over long periods of time, but can be dissolved in a single moment.  We have laws, we have regulations, we have rules.  If they prove to be inadequate in any way, we should change them.  If they express our intent, they must be followed to the letter by each of us.  Our system is built on it.   Taxpayers deserve it.  It’s a matter of individual responsibility and personal conduct.  But we should not allow expressions of concern to break down the collaborative climate.  We must have the ability to have the open and frequent communications that lead to a more complete understanding, higher quality judgments, and better performance.  Upon this our success also depends. 

So, with fully integrated concepts of operations, sound system architectures, and a productively collaborative environment, the technology part seems to be within closer reach.  I have been very pleased with the philosophy that many of you have advanced that appropriately puts people first – in assuring that outcomes are performance-based and results-oriented, processes are user friendly, and that it is the machine that works for the person rather than the alternative.   Philosophically, within Lockheed Martin, we work hard to be a trusted partner.  We believe in knowing the mission intimately – making it our own, applying systems integration skills to assure overall optimization, and maintaining an open business model to incorporate a wide range of best value solutions available in the global marketplace.  The supply chain can be configured in countless ways to optimize not just performance, but affordability as well. 

There is no one among us who does not recognize the increasing demands on budgets and the growing need to demonstrate value for money spent.  And while, as we have said, it is difficult to predict the future, fiscal pressures are an absolute certainty. 

For those who think we, together, may not be up to the task of meeting today’s challenges, I disagree.  A few examples from just our experience are instructive.  In 2000, the Census Bureau applied a scanned-image optical character recognition system that read and analyzed 120 million handwritten forms in multiple languages with 98% accuracy, and they’re setting the bar higher.  The FBI now routinely identifies, compares, and matches fingerprints to aid in law enforcement in a process that now takes minutes, compared previously to days and weeks, and the new standard will be measured in seconds.

The National Archives is advancing a new system for electronic records retention that will facilitate document transfer, access, and preservation.

NASA recently completed the seven year, 2.9 billion mile Stardust Mission to capture particles from the Comet Wild-2 adding to the study of the origins of our universe.  And within four days, they were on their way again to Pluto.  And the U.S. military routinely exploits the benefits of information fusion aggregated through multiple sensors and systems with full command and control in a fashion that makes battlefield situational awareness as essential as a sidearm. 

There is no domain that cannot be addressed.  There is no process that cannot be better optimized.  There is no mission that cannot be fulfilled. 

Despite these many challenges and many constraints, I still think we’re very lucky because the fundamental ingredients for success abound.  We are reminded daily that our military lacks neither courage nor compassion – they’re embracing 21st century security challenges with the full measure of bravery and devotion to duty our nation needs and desires.  And civil government professionals are absolutely fearless in their pursuit of better quality services for our citizens – willing to challenge and willing to change. 

Your job is more critical than ever.  Information technologies underpin every system, every process, and every action the government undertakes.  It will be your energy, your drive, your knowledge, your leadership, and your dedication that will protect and advance American interests.

These 21st century challenges are our challenges.  This time is our time.  It is a privilege for us to serve.  And like those who came before us, let us redefine the security imperatives, reshape the mission, adapt to new realities, and prevail ... and in doing so, the world will be better for our effort.  Godspeed to each of you in your mission.

Thank you