Stovepipes stall DOD reforms

Logistics modernization in the Defense Department has been hindered not

only by outdated systems and hundreds of stovepipes, but also by culture

and politics, according to a panel of DOD insiders at MicroStrategy World


"The No. 1 issue related to the failure to progress in logistics reform

is culture," said Paul Brubaker, the DOD's deputy chief information officer,

at the event in Washington, D.C. Tuesday. "People have staked their careers

on the proliferation of these stovepipes."

Brubaker said the department's organization is flawed with respect to

logistics because every service and agency has an individual responsible

for it, but there is no single leader, resulting in a lack of coordination.

"All the services and agencies have separate heads," he said. "We need

to coordinate those visions and work hard at blowing up the existing processes,

and put those resources into warfighting."

Lt. Gen. Charles Mahan, deputy chief of staff for logistics in the Army,

agreed that DOD's culture is averse to change but said that he and many

others are ready to move forward.

"Most are willing to change, but there is not an investment strategy

that allows us to change," Mahan said, adding that directives demanding

technology refreshments for 30 percent of DOD systems per year are good,

as long as there is an investment strategy to support them. "We must break

the mold, but there must be dollars to break that mold."

Brubaker and Mahan agreed that getting money from Congress is easier

said than done, especially when it comes to the military and big-budget

programs such as logistics modernization.

Brubaker said Congress "nearly destroyed" a recent Army logistics modernization

program that he now considers a best practice for other agencies to follow.

"We need more speed and agility" in investment strategy, he said, noting

that a good idea today wouldn't receive significant funding for two years.

Further complicating matters are outdated requirements and regulations

that military personnel must adhere to, even though the personnel or materials

they refer to are no longer used, Mahan said.

"We have warehouses that we do nothing with that we can't eliminate,"

Mahan said. "We are prepared to do it, but in the current political environment

we can't do that."

But next week's presidential election may prove to be a catalyst for

change, regardless of who is elected. "Whatever the new administration is,

it's time to accommodate some of these changes to allow us to be great stewards

of the taxpayers' money," Mahan said.


  • Federal 100 Awards
    Federal 100 logo

    Nominations for the 2021 Fed 100 are now being accepted

    The deadline for submissions is Dec. 31.

  • Government Innovation Awards
    Government Innovation Awards -

    Congratulations to the 2020 Rising Stars

    These early-career leaders already are having an outsized impact on government IT.

Stay Connected