DOD bill would raise profile of chief management officers

The role of chief management officers at the Defense Department could expand under provisions in a version of the Fiscal 2009 National Defense Authorization Act the Senate is considering.

The House version, passed in May resolved an unintended conflict in the chain of command caused by establishing a chief management officer at DOD, a House committee staff member said. According to the House bill, the director of the Business Transformation Agency would report to only one executive, DOD’s deputy CMO.

The Senate bill goes further, the staff member said.

The Senate legislation, S. 3001, would assign CMOs at each military department to lead its business transformation, along with the director of the military department’s Office of Business Transformation.

The bill also makes DOD’s deputy CMO the vice chairman of the Defense Business System Management Committee, which advises the Defense secretary on policies, procedures and activities to be integrated for business process improvement. In a report accompanying the Senate bill, the committee said the move would align the reporting chain for the director of the Business Transformation Agency. The director currently reports to two executives.

The House bill would put the deputy CMO on a list of the DOD officials that might take the vice chairman role but would leave it to the deputy Defense secretary to make the final decision.
The 2008 authorization bill provided for the establishment of a deputy CMO at DOD, but the department has not filled the position.

Last year, DOD named Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England as its first CMO after initially opposing the establishment of the position.

The Government Accountability Office has recommended in audits and congressional hearings that DOD name a full-time CMO to focus on more effective management and business transformation because DOD has so many programs on GAO’s high-risk list. For example, GAO has cited serious problems in DOD’s financial management, contract management and weapons systems acquisition.

The 2009 Defense Authorization bill directs each military department to implement a business transformation plan, enterprisewide business systems architecture and transition plan led by its CMO.

Each military department would establish an Office of Business Transformation to help the CMO carry out the initiative.

According to the Senate bill, the CMO of each military department would report progress on the business transformation plans to congressional defense and appropriations committees after the first six months and then annually for the next three years.

In July, in its final implementation report for the fiscal 2008 Defense Authorization Act, DOD said it would establish an Office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer in August, even though it did not expect to have a nominee by the end of this administration.

The establishment of the office was designed to ensure the continuity of business transformation between administrations, the DOD report states.

According to the final implementation plan, DOD’s deputy CMO will supervise the director of the Business Transformation Agency, make recommendations to improve department business operations and periodically update the DOD Strategic Management Plan. The deputy CMO will also become a member of DOD’s primary senior governance bodies.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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