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Abstract: This two-part case focuses on the vast US Air Force fleet maintenance system and raises a series of questions related to a core issue: How should the Air Force decide whether or to what extent it should hire private aerospace contractors to perform maintenance work which has been done through government "depots" employing thousands of skilled personnel? The (A) case raises the core policy issue of how government should weight the promise of greater efficiency and budget savings offered by the private sector against the institutional knowledge, and potential for crisis response, emobdied in the publicly-operated depot system. The (B) case focuses on a related management decision: How should a key maintenance management official, aware of a split in the Air Force ranks on the "contracting out" issue, approach a major upcoming public speaking engagement?
Learning Objective: Nominally about the maintenance issue, this case transcends it in raising questions about the latitude for independence of thought on the part of officials in ostensibly chain-of-command hierarchies.