Your Defense Dollars At Work

May 7, 2008

Defense DepartmentA few years ago, I learned that the Pentagon web site has a daily posting of contracts awarded to defense contractors. Nosing around, I came across a billion dollar award to a company called Alliant Armament, which manufactures bullets for the military. I also learned that some of the executives at the company had made significant contributions to the Bush campaign. Interesting.

Last week, I decided to look into Pentagon contracts again, and learned that Alliant, now ATK Techsystems, has become a very profitable enterprise, with $3.6 billion in current sales, and back orders of $3.9 billion. Seven and a half billion dollars. Not bad for a company with 17,000 employees.

And who’s the guiding light at ATK? Retired Vice Admiral Dan Murphy, Jr., former Commander of the 6th Fleet during the Balkan conflict. He has a distinguished pedigree. His dad was Chief of Staff for Vice President George H.W. Bush, and Deputy Director of the CIA. Last year, CEO Murphy made $13.7 million in compensation and stock options, not counting, of course, his Navy pension.

CEO Murphy is assisted by ATK Senior Vice President Steven Cortese, 2003 Staff Director for the Republican led Senate Appropriations Committee and Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. I would guess he knows a lot about getting defense appropriations.

ATK has flourished under their leadership, and is currently the world’s largest ammunition manufacturing entity in the world. In 2007 alone, it made 1.4 billion rounds of small caliber ammunition, enough to shoot every Iraqi citizen fifty times over.

This fascinating story got me back into the wonderful world of defense contracts. Even more interesting news is coming up in further posts.