In many NS pubs, many commanders, especially newer commanders, are reluctant to drop equipment for their team. The main reasons the commander will not drop equipment readily, especially early in the game, is a psychological issue of "wasting" resources and a distrust that newly endowed players will immediately squander the equipment. This also sucks for people who are not the commander. A great majority of my pubbing experience involved just heading out with the stock lmg and the ammo from the armory even if the commander had resources to spare.
I suggest changing the acquisition of equipment from a fixed cost per unit to a "free" cooldown system. Placing the equipment is free once you have paid the initial outlay of building or upgrade. You should only be able to stockpile and hand out a certain amount of a certain equipment. When equipment is handed out, a slow cooldown starts to stockpike the weapon again back to the max stockpile. This means losing the equipment all at once is still disastrous.
As an example, consider an early game shotgun upgrade that costs 50 resources (the exact res or specific numbers DO NOT MATTER, this is just an example for illustration). This may immediately give the commander 1 shotgun to hand out. Then, slowly, a shotgun cooldown will replenish slowly til 3. At any time only 3 shotguns can be on the field at any one time. Whenever a shotgun is available, the commander can hand out the shotgun for "free." However, the cost truly isn't free. The opportunity cost of the 50 resources could have possibly been used elsewhere.
What are the benefits to this system? I believe such a system would encourage commanders much more to give players equipment. Just from a psychological standpoint, pub commanders would be much more likely to hand out equipment because they feel that if the equipment is lost they will just get it back anyways. Even if getting 5 shotguns cost the exact same amount of overall resources in the classic NS system and this "free" system, I think the psychological aspect would make commanders much more willing to hand stuff out and spend their resources directly on marines.
You could greatly tweak the system and have many different types of gradual upgrades. For example, you could have upgrades that increase the rate of cooldown and/or the max amount you could stockpile of a certain weapon. This could tailor builds to be more early-game shotgun-centric or more oriented toward another weapon. You could even have fun little side equipment with this system such as a cool pistol on a really long cooldown or something stupid like that that comes with certain weapon upgrades that the commander would actually hand out since it comes "free" with the research cost of the main weapon. Who would actually ever seriously buy a marginal pistol side weapon that's a moderate upgrade to the regular pistol in the classic NS system if it cost 5+ resources?
Depending on how you tweak the numbers, you could make the initial outlay buy a lot of immediate weapons or have a gradual ramp-up so that getting new tech doesn't immediatley allow a really strong timing push. Maybe the initial outlay could be cheap for just having one of a weapon and you would have to spend resources to gradually ramp up how many you could have at once.
This system can lessen a slippery slope effect of losing a lot of equipment at once in a disastrous battle. If the team does not constantly die again and they don't lose a lot of resource towers, they will gradually acquire the same power they had before although they will likely cede some of the map. Dying has consequences, but it isn't a steep cliff where comebacks are impossible.
How would you balance a game where the marines research all the little cooldown upgrades and the entire tech tree and are turtling on one resource tower? You could always tie the speed of the cooldowns to the rate of resource flow without actually directly costing resources. As an example, having 3 or more resource towers would allow the maximum rate of cooldown. However, if you get down to one resource tower, the cooldowns should drastically slow down so that marines can't just turtle forever on one base with "free" equipment and so that an overwhelming resource advantage on the other team would allow them to break the turtle.
I feel systems that encourage commanders to actually drop equipment for their players would greatly improve the pubbing experience in NS2!