How DOD plans to link readiness needs to budgets

Veronica Daigle, Assistant Secretary for Defense for Readiness, said updating its readiness reporting system using a new framework will help spot readiness deficiencies and predict future needs.

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The Defense Department is set to get its biggest budget yet for 2020 $738 billion, about $12 billion shy of the White House's request. These requests aren't likely to shrink in coming years, and with continuing resolutions funding government at least through Dec. 20, DOD is looking at ways to directly link dollars to military readiness.

Veronica Daigle, the Defense Department's Assistant Secretary for Defense for Readiness, said updating the Defense Readiness Reporting System (DRRS) consolidates readiness data in a single enterprise system, is key to understanding what data is being collected and how it needs to be reported.

Reforming DRRS was one of senators' biggest concerns as Daigle was being confirmed and Daigle's office is now developing a reform plan to be sent to Congress in early 2020 to identify where DOD needs to make changes.

To do that, DOD established the readiness recovery framework (R2F), which Daigle called "a transparent, measurable and repeatable process" to spot readiness deficiencies and establishes milestones for improvement.

"You try to determine if this is a personnel issue, a training issue, is this an equipment issue. If it's an equipment issue, is it a spare parts issue. So what you're trying to do is peel it back so you can go to a lower level," Daigle said during the Professional Services Council's Defense Services conference Nov. 21.

Daigle said DOD has increased R2F's scope to include 34 major force elements and 92 metrics tied to limiting factors since 2017. The organization is also in the midst of its biannual review of the framework and expects to expand further.

"Through the R2F, my office is looking to improve the quality and utility of our readiness data. We want to identify leading indicators to readiness improvements and increase our ability to accurately measure and track readiness recovery," she said.

The framework is also being used to track how budgetary resources are linked to readiness outcomes, Daigle said.

"One of the challenges we have in the readiness community is how we measure readiness outcomes with the budget resources," Daigle said, adding that "readiness measures are often income based and the way we budget resources -- whether it be in a subactivity group or in a budget line item -- does not always align with how we report readiness."

For example, how does an additional dollar for an aviation training program improve an Air Force squadron's readiness? Is it the quality of ranges or the number of flying hours and fuel used?

Daigle said it's about bringing the operational and budgetary languages together, assessing whether challenges have a true budgetary need -- and then inputting that information into DRRS to help predict future needs.

R2F will help break down where squadrons are experiencing challenges, such as with training or parts.

"So you create a list of where the challenges are, then you use that information to go to the budgeting community and talk to them about where funding would be applicable," she said. "The real key to success here is building that dialog."

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