Posts Tagged ‘defense’

Performance Pay: Here to Stay?

August 27, 2009

Not unlike the recent public healthcare debates, the mention of performance-based pay generates much passion.  The continued rollout of the Defense Department’s version of performance pay was put on hold at the beginning of the Obama Administration, pending a study.  That study is now out.  It is short and clear:  continue the pause, rethink some of the initial premises put in place in 2004, engage employees in re-designing the system, and be sure to invest in training managers. While the report concludes” “Successful performance management systems have the potential to enhance organizations performance and drive effective results,” it pointed to several implementation actions taken in recent years that led to frustration by both managers and employees.

Media played up the unions’ disappointment that the system was not rejected outright.   But separately there were strong signals from John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management, that President Obama is committed to linking pay to performance as a condition of any broader governmentwide pay reform efforts.

What should be the focus of the “rethink?”  A coalition of good government groups, the Government Performance Coalition, outlined several “key drivers for enhancing the prospects of success:”

Focus first on instituting a proven performance management system.  Performance management must initially be separated from pay.  The system has to be tied to proven improvements in performance, and “an effective performance system must be recognized as benefiting employee motivation and engagement, as well as recruitment and retention, regardless of pay.”

Second, provide for the proper level of transparency.  Without the ability to understand one’s rating or the way in which the process functions, a major reason for the enhanced system is lost.”

And third, reinforce the value of constructive ongoing communications.  Employee-manager feedback and dialogue are important, but oftentimes difficult to achieve.  Training helps, but it is important for leaders to “sustain a workplace culture that values constructive communication.”

Interestingly, these elements were reflected several years ago in an assessment of the performance pay system implemented at the Government Accountability Office.   This isn’t a new topic.  This blog has highlighted several other related IBM Center reports on this topic, if you want to dig into some of the background.


Obama Agency Visits

March 19, 2009

During campaign his campaign, President Obama said he wanted to “make government cool again.”  A good place is to start at home.  And he seems to be following some of his predecessors by visiting different federal agencies in his first weeks in office.  Both the President and his wife have been making visits to agencies, holding listening sessions and town halls. . . . and in the process they are stirring up a good bit of excitement.


His first visit was to the Defense Department in late January, where he met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff to get briefed on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  This visit was followed by a visit to Energy, where he told employees that it was time to get serious about renewable energy, to the Department of the Interior, where he helped celebrate the Departments’ 160th anniversary, and to the Department of Transportation, where he and Vice President Biden touted the Administration’s transportation investments.


His wife Michelle Obama has been on “listening tours” of a number of agencies as well, visiting EPA, and the Departments of Agriculture, Education, and Housing and Urban Development.


The President’s most recent visit was to the Department of Veterans Affairs, just across Lafayette Park from the White House, for their 20th anniversary celebration.

Defense Reform and the Transition

October 29, 2008

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.


Phil’s Predictions


“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.


The Transition


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.”


National Security Reform

August 5, 2008


Project on National Security Reform

Project on National Security Reform

Think tanks are starting to release some significant reports for the next president. The Project on National Security Reform recently released its preliminary findings.  The project’s goal is to revisit the National Security Act of 1947, which put in place the current infrastructure for national security (like the Defense Department!).


The project has a bipartisan cast of star advisors – Norm Augustine, Leon Fuerth, Newt Gingrich, Wesley Clark, Brent Scrowcroft, and more.


The preliminary report – more than 100 pages – concludes: “The world for which the national security system was created no longer exists.”  It identified a series of insights that should underlay any reform efforts, including:


·         The system must produce a collaborative government approach

·         Resources much match goals and objectives

·         The new system must be able to deal more effectively with other nations


It encourages the creation of a “national security workforce bound by a national security culture that rewards cooperation and collaboration,” and have “Oversight and Accountability of the system as a whole, rather than of its constituent parts.”


The findings report does not offer solutions.  This report is designed to only set the stage. Another report, along with detailed findings, are due out in October.