What must be done to reform the current mess?I'll take personal accountability as well.
First, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates must establish a culture that restores hierarchical decision-making authority and personal accountability to procurement. The backbone of such management should be the military departments, which have cultures of accountability. Each military department already has a service secretary and service chief who have the essential levers of control. Title 10 of the U.S. Code gives them power over assignments, promotions, retirements and expenditures. And it is they who should be held accountable. The staff of the secretary of defense should perform only those interservice functions that are essential to integrate and reconcile cross-service issues.
Second, the culture of unbridled design and engineering changes that has become entrenched in the Pentagon must be ended. Service secretaries alone should have the power to be the gatekeepers.
Third, the policy of ceding control to contractors should be abandoned and control should be taken back by the military services. That will require rebuilding cadres of procurement engineers, technologists and managers in the civilian and military ranks through special incentives, training programs and lateral recruiting from the private sector. No one should be assigned to any procurement executive job for less than a four-year tour.
Fourth, it should be general policy to maintain two or more providers competing throughout production. Programs such as aircraft carriers, where numbers may be insufficient to support annual competition, should be treated as exceptions, not the rule.
Fifth, there should be at least a 20% overall reduction in civilian and military staff bureaucracies. This can be done through normal attrition and early retirements, as has successfully been done in the past.
Sixth, for the more senior procurement positions, including the chief executives of the Defense agencies, there should be a major initiative to recruit outstanding leaders with proven records of accomplishment in private and public service. Like career procurement officials, they must commit to a minimum of four years in the job. So far the Obama/Gates picks are very promising.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Former SECNAV speaks out on reform. Read it all then ponder his list here.