We cannot afford business as usual

  • Published
  • By David J. Krohman
  • 771st Test Squadron director
I am sure every organization has been asked over and over (usually the same question just asked differently); "What can you do to save money in your organization?"

It's no secret that economic times are tough. Gas prices are hovering around four dollars a gallon, food prices are up, the housing market is down and it seems that every utility company has sent out a notice that they are looking to increase their rates. This is not new. History has shown that we go through these ups and downs every 10 years or so.

For example, we had a military build-up in the 1980's during President Reagan's years, followed by shrinking military budgets, a civilian hiring freeze, and a poor housing market in the Antelope Valley in the 1990's, then a strong economy and booming real-estate market at the turn of the century.

We are also bombarded in the news about how California is facing record deficits and the solution is constantly being debated (more taxes versus cut programs).

The federal government is also on its third Continuing Resolution Authority and it's anyone's guess as to when the budget will be passed. You may be asking yourself, "What has changed and how does this affect me?" We go through budget drills each year, and more often than not, we get fall-out money at the end of the year. Why is this time any different? The difference is the economic tsunami has arrived and there is no extra money coming.

I contend that no one thing has caused this financial crisis. Rather, it's a result of many things put in place over the years that are now taking effect. Some of the biggest contributors in recent years have been the approximately 700 billion dollar economic bailout of the financial market (aka stimulus package), fighting in two conflicts (Iraq and Afghanistan) that have been going on for nearly eight years and a third conflict that has just started in Libya.

During tough economic times each of us makes sacrifices or changes to weather the storm. We carpool to work. We forgo the nice-to-have items at the grocery store for the essentials we really need. We eat out less often. We set the thermostat in our homes lower in the winter and higher in the summer. We make it a habit to turn out lights in rooms that are not occupied, etc...

The same goes for the workplace. We cannot afford business as usual. This requires change and it is change that is the unknown and causes fear and trepidation. But we at Edwards should not be strangers to the unknown; our motto is "ad inexplorata" toward the unexplored.

We should not let these times get us down wondering what we are going to do, but rather view these circumstances as an opportunity. An opportunity to make our organizations more efficient. An opportunity to eliminate the bureaucracy that we complain about. An opportunity to eliminate or modify unnecessary or outdated policies and procedures. An opportunity to change for the better.

Enthusiasm and the right attitude will help. Don't look at this from the point of view that we cannot do this, but rather we can do this if..., or we can do this and... We need to look for ways to do as much as we can for the warfighter as efficiently as we can for the taxpayer with the resources we have.

The solution is not easy and no one cut or change will magically solve the financial problem. It will come from all of us doing our part. No one knows an organization better than the men and woman that make up the organization to best answer the question; "What can we do to save money?"

Our leadership is constantly looking for ways to save money and stretch the dollars we do have. Hard decisions will have to be made. It's up to all of us to ensure they are armed with the right information so that the best decisions are made.