Stovepipes stall DOD reforms
- By Dan Caterinicchia, Dan Caterinicchia
- Oct 31, 2000
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only by outdated systems and hundreds of stovepipes, but also by culture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Further complicating matters are outdated requirements and regulations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.