DOD probes agency reform

The Defense Department last week kicked off a six-month study of its headquarters organizations and DOD agencies such as the Defense Information Systems Agency with comptroller John Hamre heading up a task force on Defense reform.

Today secretary of Defense William Cohen plans to release the results of the Quadrennial Defense Review which is widely expected to call for sharp cutbacks in personnel and weapons systems in all three services. Although Cohen called the QDR an "exhaustive examination" of DOD he said the six-month time frame devoted to the review did not allow "sufficient time to study significant reforms in major areas of my personal focus particularly the Office of the Secretary of Defense Defense agencies Defense field activities and the military departments."

Hamre zeroed in on the Defense agencies including DISA as well as the Defense Finance Agency and the Defense Logistics Agency as potentially ripe for reform or reorganization. In response to questions at a press briefing Hamre said "There's been a lot of good that's come from creating the Defense agencies [but] when you have great big centralized operations sometimes you deny yourself the creativity that exists in other organizations."

Hamre added that the savings from the Defense agencies projected by the Bush administration under the Defense Management Review project did not meet expectations. "They advertised savings of about $70 billion [but] when we got here and did an independent audit the savings were $42 billion. These were significant savings but not as large as had been advertised."

Warren Suss a Jenkintown Pa.-based telecommunications analyst said he doubted the task force would recommend any major cutbacks for DISA. "Just because things are on the table does not mean they are on the cutting block. I would bet money on DISA's survival."

Who's WhoThe task force targeted to deliver its report to Cohen on Nov. 30 has tapped a wide pool of expertise. Members include Michael Bayer a consultant who has served in the Energy and Commerce departments David Chu director of RAND Corp.'s Washington office James Locher a former assistant secretary of Defense for special operations Arnold Punaro a former staff director of the Senate Armed Services Committee and now a senior vice president at Science Applications International Corp. Kim Wincup a former assistant secretary of the Army and a program director at SAIC and Dov Zakheim a former undersecretary of Defense for planning and now corporate vice president of System Planning Corp.v

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