Former Defense official recommends combining reforms with the QDR

A former Defense comptroller told the House Armed Services Committee that the DOD should focus on infrastructure modernization, acquisition and financial management reform in its upcoming Quadrennial Defense Review.

Dov Zakheim, who is now a vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. of McLean, Va., was called to testify earlier this month as part of the committee’s assessment of Defense strengths and weaknesses.

Since the 2001 QDR, “infrastructure modernization fell victim to budgetary pressures.
Acquisition reform remains an elusive objective. Financial management, part of my own former bailiwick, is materializing more slowly than had been anticipated,” Zakheim said.

He also implored committee members to appoint a chief management officer at DOD. The senior-level executive would run the department’s Business Management Modernization Program.
“The Defense Department ur- gently requires a chief management officer who could ensure that the most efficient business management processes are adopted and employed to husband precious defense resources,” Zakheim said.

The chief management officer would be responsible for development, approval, implementation, integration and oversight of policies, processes and systems for DOD management, including business systems modernization. The post would control funding, approve budget requests, develop a strategic plan and performance goals, and monitor progress.

Zakheim’s suggestion mirrors a long-standing one from the Government Accountability Office to create a chief management officer’s position.

During the hearing, the committee set out to create a bipartisan process in which Defense analysts could offer up their views on the upcoming Quadrennial Defense Review, which is due to Congress in February, concurrently with the 2007 Defense budget request.

The objective was to seek ideas on what the QDR should seek to accomplish and not to second-guess or duplicate DOD’s review, according to committee chairman Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.).

“At the end of the day, we will produce an independent product that represents a bipartisan committee view of what our strategic defense priorities should be,” Hunter said. He said committee members would meet in a closed-door session soon to discuss a process for moving forward.

Stepping on toes

Hunter said there is concern that, as the topics of cyberthreats and homeland defense increasingly interlace with DOD’s core functions, the QDR is “moving into missions in which the de- partments of State, Justice and Homeland Se -curity may have the primary role. We need to make sure that the de-partment strikes the right balance in its various responsibilities.”

Zakheim said the QDR likely would stress the need to prepare for conventional, irregular, disruptive and catastrophic threats. Disruptive threats, Zakheim said, are when adversaries attempt to undermine military tactics using sensors, biotechnology, cyberoperations, directed energy and space.

“On the one hand, our forces themselves will need to be more responsive to the most likely threat—that of irregular warfare,” said Zakheim. “On the other hand, our technologies—and indeed the way we organize our defenses—must be attuned to more destabilizing catastrophic and disruptive threats. The events of 9/11 demonstrated that such threats, however unlikely they might appear, no longer could be ruled out as some paranoiac’s pipe dream. They must be taken seriously and ap- propriately accounted for.”

Daniel Goure, vice president of the Lexington Institute of Arlington, Va., applauded HASC for undertaking its own assessment of what the QDR should contain and urged committee members to ask this question when they get the QDR in February: Does it further the transformation goals in the department?

“The tendency at present is to shortchange transformation in order to support the current demands of the warfighters. While this is appropriate for current planning, the QDR is about the long-term,” Goure said.

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