How industrial, commercial organizations can benefit by cuts in military spending

In my nature of not being a gloom and doom person and always looking for an optimistic side of any problem, I have been closely evaluating the current preparations for significant layoffs, especially within the defense and government sectors which could be as high as 20 percent, according to recent published reports.

This magnitude of cuts in government spending doesn’t mean that innovation, productivity, and research and development should be lost, but rather refocused into commercial and industrial efforts.  Most large defense organizations that develop significant military and warfare capabilities should redouble their efforts toward health, energy, cybersecurity, and infrastructure management efforts that can be applied towards domestic consumer applications.

One such effort for cybersecurity is to deploy best-of-breed technologies used to protect government and national security information. Smartcard and biometric technologies should be evolved by defense contractors for financial and healthcare best practices.  Another could be the evolution of secure communications equipment currently used by our armed forces that could be applied to law enforcement officer safety. 

One challenge has been that commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products don’t come with a price tag that meets defense contractors’ investment in research and development efforts, and innovation doesn’t come cheap to meet the mission specific needs of our nation.  On the other hand, the gap has been closing for many years on products that were defined as military grade versus consumer grade, especially when making references to information technology, hardware and software.

Many defense contractors have viable technology that can be used in the commercial marketplace that were often only sold or marketed to military customers.  Why don’t the defense contractors begin to think about more COTS applications for their current products and service - and instead of thinking about layoffs which contribute to higher unemployment - change the focus of innovation to the commercial and private sector?