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Abstract: In August 1977, Col. Hubert Lacquement was facing the toughest challenge of his career. The Army project he was managing, the Viper assault/anti-tank weapon, had become more expensive than predicted and had fallen behind its production schedule. During the previous 12 months, relations between the Army and Viper's prime contractor had broken down. Lacquement's relationship with his commanding officer had also soured. Even more worrisome was the fact that the weapon was not performing well in test flights. His superior officer, increasingly frustrated by what he saw as a lack of direction on the project, gave Lacquement 30 days to "straighten out" Viper or face dismissal. The project manager was faced with a difficult decision: Should he recommend that the Army get rid of the contractor (thereby losing millions of Army dollars and adding years of delay) or should he redouble his efforts to improve the contractor's performance?
Learning Objective: This case highlights the role of government procurement officials in dealing with both private contractors and their own superiors. It also provides a glimpse of the career path of a procurement official.