This Week's Federal Player: Jared Summers
Aircraft Mission Saved Taxpayers' Millions
Monday, October 5, 2009; 11:07 AM
Jared Summers is a young and dedicated public servant at the Department of the Air Force, a division of the Department of Defense, who has saved taxpayers' tens of millions of dollars.
When the Air Force decided to retire the F-117 Nighthawk, the world's first stealth fighter, the initial cost estimate exceeded $225 million.
Summers handled daily operations of dismantling the aircraft and disposing of its weapons systems, according to Phillip Platt, the F-177 project manager. Summers also developed innovative approaches that helped bring the project to completion by deadline in 2008, at a cost of less than $25 million, Platt added. Not all aircraft parts could be returned to the government inventory. Platt said Summers devised new processes to disseminate some of the nonreturnable equipment to other Air Force programs, educated stakeholders involved, and secured resources to handle the job.
"He took a positive approach and refused to accept 'no' when he believed that better processes were available," Platt said. "He had a willingness to challenge the status quo and offer new ideas."
Air Force Lt. Col. Anthony Genatempo recalled people had conflicting views on how to accomplish the task. Summers, 26, showed "wisdom beyond his years" and displayed "poise in dealing with senior officers in the military as well as senior executives," Genatempo said.
At the start of his assignment, Summers was just 24-years-old and one year out of school. He had a good deal of on-the-job training, as well as help from his team at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.
Soon he found he could transfer valuable support equipment from the F-117 for use in Air Force programs, such as the B-52 jet fighters, and at NASA. The bottom line, he said, was saving money for both the F-117 disposition project and for other government entities.
Summers also led an effort to use three damaged engines for the training of propulsion technicians, coordinated a plan to provide items to the National Museum of the Air Force, and handled the transfer of data on F-177 into archives, so that it could be retrieved in the future by the Department of Defense.
"We brought this in under budget and on schedule," Summers said. "It was not simple retiring this aircraft."
The F-117 was the nation's first stealth ground attack aircraft. It was developed in secret by Lockheed Martin and had its first flight in 1981. Seven years later, the government acknowledged the existence of the aircraft, which later played an important role in the Persian Gulf War in 1991.
The Air Force decided to retire the aircraft last year, having acquired and deployed the F-22 Raptor and the B-2 Spirit -- jets considered far more effective than the F-117.
As activities surrounding the F-117 ramped down, Summers was selected to work on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) acquisition program, a multi-year, multi-billion dollar project involving the purchase of aircraft for the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy.
This article was jointly prepared by the Partnership for Public Service, a group seeking to enhance the performance of the federal government, and washingtonpost.com. Visit www.ourpublicservice.org for more about the organization's work.