DOD financial track suggested

The Defense Department will have to undergo a "radical financial management transformation," but even then it will take more than a decade before DOD is able to produce clean books, the authors of the latest report on DOD's financial management mess said July 10.

Unlike previous failed attempts to improve DOD's financial practices, there is a new push by DOD leadership to make this issue a priority, said Stephen Friedman, retired chairman and senior partner of Goldman Sachs & Co., who led the team that published the report.

The report, "Transforming Department of Defense Financial Management: A Strategy for Change," was commissioned by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld two months ago.

Friedman said that the new leadership understands that it needs to fix the antiquated, stovepiped system that prevents the department from even assessing how much it would cost to fix the financial mess.

The report recommends a twin-track program. The first part of the plan is where DOD would employ a coordinated departmentwide management approach to developing standard integrated systems.

The second part, which the report calls "close-in success," would target projects within and across each military service that would provide short-term successes.

Critical to the success of the report's recommendations is the creation of a new Financial Management Information Integration Office, which would spearhead integration efforts, and a Management Initiatives Office, responsible for creating metrics for tracking progress.

There is no silver bullet, however, the report states bluntly: "The path to full transformation is a long one."

Yet DOD clearly illustrated its ability to effectively mobilize around an issue during efforts to fix computers for the Year 2000 date change, Friedman said. "This is doable," he said.

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the DorobekInsider.com, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine, FCW.com, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at PlanetGov.com, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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