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Chapter 40 - The Administrator[]

Tharkad System
Lyran Commonwealth
January, 3144

"You would think
a naval budget centered on expansion
Would contain less red ink."

-caption from a political cartoon showing CNO Sharon Ngo chasing contractors with an axe.

Budget meeting, Triad, January 3144...

"It's a working budget." Sharon said. "This is what the navy you requested will cost."

"You've cancelled a dozen major programs." the General of the Armies stated.

"Yes, I have." Sharon said, "Most of those projects have been in the works for decades without forward motion. A few were outdated before they were approved, and I've removed redundant building and technologies programs in favor of a more standardized approach to procurement. I can get you the navy you told me you wanted, for the budget allocation at the bottom of the document, but only with the cuts I've recommended...notably, I've also canceled contracts with factories that no longer exist in the Lyran Commonwealth. the penalty clauses on those contracts are still less than the price of continuing to maintain those contracts."

She stood from her chair and strode up to the large display.

"Industrially, it is better to be self-sufficient than to import, when you have to import, it's better to do so from people who aren't actively trying to kill you." she tapped the screen, "This is common sense, people. Within the existing Commonwealth, we have the raw capacity to make up for the losses of specific factories, if we enforce a standardization."

"That isn't going to make you popular with most of the Estates, Admiral."

Sharon shrugged, "They can discuss my relief with the Archon." she said. "This is what we need to do to be viable and competitive. the Fiscal Year budget for 3144 through 3149 that I have submitted, is sustainable, will provide the forces for LCAF's projected needs, and gives us a comfortable buffer in case of emergency. My predecessor's idea of 'budgeting' was asking defense contractors what they would like to be paid for unfilled promises, obsolete equipment, and shoddy workmanship, while arranging for his friends to get kickbacks and comfortable sinecures as 'consultants'."

"You seem to have an inside track on these accusations, Admiral...almost like you're positioning Ngo Industries for a favored position!"

Sharon looked at the senior member of the Estates General's panel on defense. "Ngo Industries already has that position." she said, "With Terra going Armadillo, the only major competitor in their core business, Krupp, is out of the picture. I am, if anything, harming my own holdings with this budget outline, since most of the firms that will lose contracts are large-scale customers of my family's firm. I stand to lose money on this deal, and by presenting it at all, I've sabotaged or ended relationships going back decades."

"How much money are you losing??" Trillian interrupted.

Sharon paused, her perpetual frown deepening, "Hmmm...carry the one...about thirty six billion kroner per annum in net worth for the first five years."

A couple of representatives, including the one from Kaumberg, nearly choked on their drinks. "THIRTY SIX BILLION???"

"Defense contracting has been lucrative but, contractors require equipment-even when they undercapitalize and can't meet deadlines." Sharon explained, "Ngo is the toolmaker for the Commonwealth. My family is one of the three wealthiest families in the commonwealth. Every one of your defense industry giants owes us money. I did not approach this problem lightly. My recommended course will see defaults from Defiance Hesperus, various firms on Main Street, loss of income from Arc Royal, and so on, to a low-ball estimate of around thirty billion kroner in assets lost in the first year, with subsequent years seeing continued losses...but that is a fraction of what it is costing the Lyran Taxpayers to prop up industries that no longer deliver on time, no longer deliver on specification, or have never actually fulfilled their contracted obligations. nearly thirty percent of the national budget goes to a defense that isn't worth one percent of that expense."

she brought up another display, this one a series of graphs. "By contrast, the domestic budget of Kowloon alone paid for the division of ships we brought to relieve Tharkad in July of 3143. it wasn't the ENTIRE domestic output of one lyran world, it was two percent of gross domestic product, and the fraction of that two percent, was what I brought. The waste, fraud and abuse in the LCN budget must be removed, that began with removing non-useful personnel from positions, but it must continue with the procurement and operating budgets."

"You keep referencing the Navy, what about the rest of the budget?" Trillian asked.

"I concentrate on my own area of responsibility, Highness." Sharon said, "I am no expert on surface warfare, if General Steiner says he needs a thing, I am in no position to argue that it is unnecessary, and I do not pretend to know what unique requirements ground forces may need to fill. I know what we need to move those ground forces only because he tells me, I know space warfare, I know something of counterinsurgency but, I will refuse to speculate on what the general forces of the LCAF may or may not be able to toss aside and get along without."

"Yet you have ground forces experience."

"I have experience in killing. That is not the same as experience in planning, or executing, a ground war. My recommendations are solely for the Navy because that is something I have full understanding and knowledge of, it is my area of expertise." she gestured to Roderick Steiner, "For the general management of the entire nation's defense and military, General Steiner has the necessary expertise, and I defer to his judgement and the judgement of the Archon-because it is my role, my position, and my duty to do so."

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