DOD vague on AT&L split

Shutterstock image (by alienant): An aerial view of the pentagon rendered as a vector. 

The Department of Defense complied with a requirement to show Congress its progress toward splitting the office of Acquisition, Technology and Logistics and the creation of a chief management officer position. The DOD complied, but did not exactly show its hand.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work sent a two-page memo to congressional leaders stating that on Feb. 17 Secretary of Defense James Mattis directed him to develop a plan to establish two new undersecretary positions for Research and Engineering and Acquisition and Sustainment and to consider options for the creation of a CMO.

The split of AT&L into an office of R&E and an office of A&S must be done by Feb. 1, 2018, according to the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act.

Work wrote that the department, "intends to take full advantage of the flexibility inherent in [the legislation] to conduct a broader rationalization of the offices, organizations, and processes … and their alignment and potential overlap with other functional areas and processes across [the Office of the Secretary of Defense] and the services."

DOD is also "examining the realignment of legacy AT&L functions to other OSD and service officials if it is prudent and can provide greater integration of efforts," the memo said.

The overall goal is to drive innovation and acquisition reform, "both of which directly support the needs of our war fighters, now and in the future."

Paul Brubaker, former director of planning and performance management in the Office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer said that the memo is a good first step.

"I think it suggests a recognition of the immense complexity of AT&L and suggests a certain pragmatism in the approach to unpacking AT&L," he said. "Hopefully they will see opportunity to consolidate functions."

Another requirement in the Defense Authorization Act is for DOD to evaluate the creation of a CMO position.  

"The department is looking carefully at the organizational responsibilities and structures associated with the senior management official position," the memo stated.

"Our goal is to create a position that will attract the best qualified candidate who possesses the requisite business acumen to optimize the business operations of the department and to give that person the requisite authority to improve the performance of the business operations of the department."

Brubaker said he is a big supporter of creating a CMO, but he expressed concerns whether that position would have the proper authority to drive needed reforms in personnel and financial management, acquisition and technology.

"There is so much redundant authority and accountability across the defense establishment as it is that few really have authority for establishing real operational goals or accountability for achieving them," Brubaker said.

"Hopefully these observations are being discussed in this context and may perhaps drive the kind of reforms to seriously increase tooth to tail," he added. "Now is a time to do something about it."

About the Author

Sean Carberry is a former FCW staff writer who focused on defense, cybersecurity and intelligence.


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