Senators seek new DOD deputy secretary for management

Senators seek new DOD deputy secretary for management

High-ranking members of the Senate Armed Services Committee have taken the advice of the Government Accountability Office on improving the Defense Department's management structure.

Sens. John Ensign (R-Nev.) and Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), chairman and ranking member of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management, and George Voinovich (R-Ohio), chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce and the District of Columbia, last week introduced S 780 establishing a DOD deputy secretary for management.

The new deputy secretary would be responsible for development, approval, implementation, integration and oversight of policies, processes and systems for DOD management, including business systems modernization. There is no companion bill in the House. The post would control funding, approve budget requests, develop a strategic plan and performance goals, and monitor progress.

DOD's business systems modernization is among seven DOD programs on GAO's January high-risk list. Auditors suggested Defense name a chief management officer or deputy secretary for management as one way to improve the project's standing.

In the high-risk report, GAO found "little tangible evidence of actual improvement" in DOD's business operations. Auditors said DOD still does not have an enterprise architecture for its business systems or a clear plan with milestones and accountability mechanisms [see GCN coverage].

"We strongly support this," said Christopher Mihm, GAO's managing director for strategic issues. He said the strategy is used by other nations and would increase attention to the business issues. Speaking today at a luncheon sponsored by the Association for Federal Information Resources Managers in Washington, Mihm said the Homeland Security Department also would benefit from such a position.

The Senate bill followed GAO's recommendation in making the position a term appointment of seven years that could not go to someone in the military or who had served in the military in the last 10 years. The Senate also would have to confirm the position.

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