House panel advances measure to eliminate CMO

Chief Management Officer, Lisa W. Hershman, answers questions during a press briefing in the Pentagon Briefing Room May 26, 2020 to discuss COVID-19 travel restrictions and Pentagon updates. (DoD photo by Marvin Lynchard) 

Lisa Hershman takes questions from reporters during a May press briefing. (DOD photo by Marvin Lynchard)

The Defense Department's chief management office would be dismantled with personnel transferred duties reassigned if a provision added to the 2021 defense policy bill is passed into law.

The House Armed Services Committee passed an amendment to the chairman's mark that would eliminate the CMO position and task the defense secretary with dividing up the current duties of the post.

"Personnel, functions, and assets of the Office of the Chief Management Officer shall be transferred to such other organizations and elements of the Department as the Secretary determines appropriate" and the CMO's authorities would be transferred to the new designated official. However, the amendment blocks anybody who previously held the role from being the reassigned official.

The move comes as the Senate Armed Services Committee adopted a similar provision and as current CMO, Lisa Hershman, has defended her office's modernization efforts. Those efforts accounted for about $6 billion in cost efficiencies over fiscal 2019, and more than $7 billion so far in fiscal 2020, Hershman said during a June 29 town hall meeting.

HASC Chairman Adam Smith previously expressed ambivalence on the position, telling reporters that frequent changes with the CMO weren't helpful but that he was open to the idea of another reorganization. Ranking Member Mac Thornberry, who submitted the amendment, told reporters that he supported the Senate's provision, which would break up the CMO role. Thornberry's leaves the reimagining of the CMO role up to the defense secretary.

There was no debate on the amendment, which was passed with a block of other provisions.

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is senior editor for FCW and Defense Systems, covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.


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