The next president’s Defense leadership team will not only be inheriting the war but also inheriting a major, ongoing transformation of Defense mission support functions. Philip Candreva, acting director of the Center for Defense Management Reform in Monterrey, California, recently completed an assessment of the recent history of defense management reform. He attempts to predict the reform agenda for the next administration based on past trends and recent GAO and academic reports. He also offers advice to both the outgoing and incoming administrations. His report also has a more general section on presidential transitions that provides some useful insights.
Defense Reforms 2001 – 2008
“The DOD’s initial call for management reform came in the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) Report.” The report outlined an agenda that ultimately led to the creation of the Business Transformation Agency which is leading a set of cross-Defense reform initiatives. The thrust of many of these efforts is to integrate over 5,000 different business systems to reduce redundancy and costs, but more importantly so they can communicate with each other and allow leaders to make better decisions, real-time.
Another structure reform was the designation of the Deputy Secretary of the department as the Department’s Chief Management Officer, and legislation is pending to designate the undersecretaries of each of the military services as their service’s respective chief management officer. The Business Transformation Agency reports to the Deputy Secretary; each military service has their own sets of transformation initiatives. Many are centered around the use of Lean Six Sigma.
“The functional area we expect will continue to receive the greatest attention is contracting and acquisition . . .from the reform perspectives of program effectiveness, transparency and accountability, and business process improvement.”
Other areas will include the effectiveness of the new National Security Personnel System as well as other human capital issues such as the existing and pending competency gaps. Another dimension will be maintaining current readiness of the military force.
Deputy Secretary Gordon England began to embed transformation initiatives in the department beginning in August 2007 with his memo listing 25 goals he wanted institutionalized by December 2008.
Candreva outlines in his paper the framework for a transition briefing book as well as potential transition actions from the perspective of career executives, the outgoing administration, and the incoming administration. He also includes a graphic of the the Clinton transition team’s structure.
His advice follows the advice of others, such as for outgoing appointees, “codify your reform initiatives and governance structures;” for incoming appointees, “listen to your predecessors. . . take time to learn the bureaucracy. . .; “ and for career executives, “Remain neutrally competent. . . Fill any leadership vacuum.”