DOD on management: We're working on it

Even as the Government Accountability Office calls on the Defense Department to create a strategic plan, Pentagon officials are working on departmentwide initiatives to improve management systems, DOD's top acquisition executive told a House subcommittee this week.

During an April 13 hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee, Comptroller General David Walker recommended that DOD officials devise a strategic plan, streamline systems investments and create the position of deputy secretary of Defense for management to improve the department’s business modernization efforts.

In January, GAO's biannual report on the 30 federal programs most susceptible to waste, fraud and mismanagement included eight from the military.

"To move forward, there are three key elements that DOD must incorporate into its business management reform efforts to successfully address the systemic management problems related to its high-risk areas," Walker said in a new GAO report that coincided with this week's hearing.

Michael Wynne, acting undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, said he appreciated GAO's recommendations in both reports to improve the department’s business operations. "I am currently pursuing DOD business enterprise-level capabilities that will serve as transformation catalysts to accelerate broader, departmentwide improvements in business processes and information systems while enabling financial accountability," Wynne said in testimony to the subcommittee.

He cited improvements in business systems modernization, supply-chain management and support infrastructure management. For example, business and technology updates at the Defense Logistics Agency surpassed the goal of an 85 percent materiel availability rate, achieving 88 percent, and back orders hit a historic low in March 2004, he said.

"Even with these accomplishments, we have some areas for improvement including further reducing our response time and variability in that response time," Wynne said.

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