Government-Owned, Contractor Operated 101

Basics to know
If you work (or are thinking about working) in national security or the defense industry, then you will have heard about government-owned, contractor-operated (GOCO) facilities. Sure, the concept seems simple enough, but how exactly does it work?
Radford Army Ammunition Plant in Radford, VA
 
Let’s walk through some common questions we hear from our new teammates during the interview and onboarding process:

Question:  What exactly is a GOCO?
Answer:  A GOCO facility is a model used by the Army when they “hire” a privately owned company to operate the site that they “own.” These facilities are manufacturing operations and were started shortly after the beginning of World War II. These sites are considered a key part of the nation’s organic industrial base as they play a vital role in the nation’s defense.

Question:  Are the Holston Army Ammunition Plant and the Radford Army Ammunition Plant GOCOs?
Answer:  Yes. Both Holston and Radford currently operate under a GOCO model. BAE Systems Ordnance Systems Inc. (OSI) has been the operating contractor for Holston since 1999 and for Radford since 2012.

Question:  Do these sites only provide product to the Army?
Answer:  No. These facilities support requirements across all Services and federal departments. They also serve as regional industrial hubs, hosting a number of local businesses through DoD-sponsored programs. While the primary mission for the GOCO is production, there is the requirement of the GOCO operating contractor to execute the facility Operation and Maintenance (O&M), market idle and underutilized facilities for commercial use, and work with the USG to modernize and upgrade the facility.

Question:  Will I be working with both Army personnel and BAE Systems personnel? 
Answer:  If you are working at Radford or Holston, the onsite Army team will be an important part of your experience. The Commander and their team will provide oversight over the operation, but in most cases, the majority of your time will be spent working with your BAE Systems colleagues. However, we are one team that is focused on one mission.
 
There’s also a chance you could interact with other facilities and businesses in the local community. It varies by site, but at Radford and Holston, it’s entirely possible that you could interact with one of the Armament, Retooling, and Manufacturing Support (ARMS) tenants on the site. 

Question:  Are all GOCO’s run by BAE Systems?
Answer:
  No, the defense of our nation is shared by many. In the defense industrial base, not all GOCOs require the same type of expertise. Operating contractors for the other GOCO facilities are Lake City (Olin-Winchester), Iowa (American Ordnance), Scranton (General Dynamics), and Hawthorne (Day & Zimmerman).

Question:  Are there other models?
Answer:  Yes. The USG owns a number of facilities operated by contractors, such as Department of Energy GOCO’s, and owns and operates a number of other industrial facilities across the country (government-owned, government-operated or GOGO). US DoD also relies on a host of private facilities. These facilities are owned and operated by key players in the aerospace-defense sector and comprise a significant portion of our nation’s industrial capacity.