Defense Transformation:

Clear Leadership, Accountability, and Management Tools Are Needed to Enhance DOD's Efforts to Transform Military Capabilities

GAO-05-70: Published: Dec 17, 2004. Publicly Released: Dec 17, 2004.

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Because future threats the nation may face are uncertain, and with many competing demands on its resources, the Department of Defense (DOD) has begun to transform its military capabilities, which will involve not only the acquisition of new weapon systems but also how the armed forces think, train, and fight. In 2003, DOD estimated $263 billion would be allocated from fiscal year 2004 through 2009 for transformation efforts. In this report GAO (1) describes DOD's strategy to transform joint military capabilities; (2) assesses the extent to which DOD has established clear leadership, accountability, and a mechanism to integrate transformation efforts; and (3) assesses the extent to which DOD's framework incorporates results-oriented management tools to guide transformation efforts.

DOD has taken positive steps to design and implement a complex strategy to transform U.S. military capabilities, but it has not established clear leadership and accountability or fully adopted results-oriented management tools to help guide and successfully implement this approach. The responsibility for transforming military capabilities is currently spread among various DOD organizations, with no one person or entity having the overarching and ongoing leadership responsibilities or the accountability for achieving transformation results. In addition, although DOD established an informal crosscutting group that meets occasionally to discuss transformation issues, this group has no charter, formal responsibilities, or authority to direct changes. GAO has previously reported that key practices for successful transformation include leadership that sets the direction of transformation and assigns accountability for results, and the use of crosscutting implementation teams, which can provide the day-to-day management needed for success. In recent testimony on DOD's business transformation, we underscored the importance of these elements and stated that DOD has not routinely assigned accountability for performance to specific organizations or individuals who have sufficient authority to accomplish goals. DOD officials believe that a single organization accountable for transformation results and a formal implementation team are not necessary because existing informal mechanisms involve key organizations that can individually implement needed changes, and an annual assessment of transformation roadmaps is prepared for the Secretary of Defense, who can direct the transformation efforts of each organization. However, in the absence of clear leadership, accountability, and a formal implementation mechanism, DOD may have difficulty resolving differences among competing priorities, directing resources to the highest priorities, and ensuring progress should changes in senior personnel occur. In addition, informal mechanisms are not sufficient to provide transparency to the process or assurance to Congress that DOD is allocating resources to address needed improvements rather than desired improvements. While DOD's strategy to transform military capabilities is a good first step, DOD has not fully developed results-oriented management tools that can help managers effectively implement and manage major efforts, and focus on achieving results. Specifically, DOD has not revised its initial transformation goals, set in 2001, to reflect new joint concepts--thus, DOD lacks a foundation for developing other tools such as performance goals and measures and linking specific resources needed to achieve each goal. DOD faces challenges in developing these tools because the joint concepts are being developed concurrently with its plans to acquire new capabilities. But without these results-oriented tools, it will be difficult for DOD to determine the extent to which its transformation efforts are achieving desired results, to measure its overall progress, or to provide transparency for how billions of dollars in planned investments are being applied.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: In oral comments, DOD disagreed with this recommendation, stating that the Secretary of Defense already provides leadership for transformation. We noted in our response that the day-to-day demands placed on the Secretary make it difficult for him to maintain oversight, that no individual has clear accountability for achieving transformation results, and that the strategic appraisal process has not provided an overall evaluation of progress in achieving transformational capabilities. The Office for Force Transformation does not provide this leadership for two reasons: 1) the Director testified that he is a catalyst for, but does not direct, transformation; and 2) since our report was issued, DOD disbanded this office. Since the Office for Force Transformation no longer exists and since DOD has not taken any action on this recommendation, we will close this recommendation with no action taken.

    Recommendation: To clarify the accountability for achieving the transformation of military capabilities and to establish a mechanism to integrate the transformation efforts using results-oriented management tools, the Secretary of Defense should assign clear leadership and accountability for achieving the transformation of military capabilities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: In oral comments, DOD disagreed with this recommendation stating that a crosscutting group would compete with the budget process creating another bureaucratic layer and that DOD's Annual Defense Report includes progress of transformation. We noted in our response that DOD has chosen to appoint crosscutting groups for other transformation efforts and that the experience of other organizations have shown that crosscutting integration teams are essential for successful transformation. Also, the Annual Defense Report had not included any measures of transformation results. We noted in our response that measuring outcomes and identifying resources devoted to transformation efforts could help Congress determine whether DOD is achieving an adequate return on investment. Since the Office for Force Transformation no longer exists and since DOD has not taken any action on this recommendation, we will close this recommendation with no action taken.

    Recommendation: To clarify the accountability for achieving the transformation of military capabilities and to establish a mechanism to integrate the transformation efforts using results-oriented management tools, the Secretary of Defense should establish a formal crosscutting transformation group, assign it with the responsibility for overseeing and integrating DOD's strategy, provide it with the necessary authority to perform their responsibilities effectively, and hold it accountable for results. The group should (1) include representatives from the key offices deemed necessary for successful implementation, (2) have clearly defined roles and responsibilities, (3) articulate and periodically revise long-term goals for the transformation of military capabilities that reflect the joint concepts, these long-term goals should identify what transformation results are to be expected and when to expect these results, (4) clearly identify the resources that DOD estimates it will need to achieve each long-term goal, (5) use the goals and measures as a foundation for the annual assessment of transformation progress, and (6) prepare an annual report to Congress on the progress in achieving transformation goals, including actions taken and outcomes achieved, resources expended and programmed, measures used to assess progress achieved, and actions planned to meet or revise unmet goals.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: In oral comments DOD disagreed with this recommendation, stating that existing mechanisms, such as roadmaps and the strategic appraisal process, would provide the results-oriented management tools we recommended. We noted that these separate elements still lack clearly defined goals linked to the joint concepts, do not clearly identify resources to meet the goals, and do not include performance measures to evaluate outcomes. DOD?s oral comments did not address our recommended improvements to the Joint Transformation Roadmap, which was intended to document planned activities to achieve transformational improvements in joint capabilities and facilitate coordination of transformational activities across DOD. Since the Office for Force Transformation, which reviewed the transformation roadmaps, no longer exists, the Joint Transformation Roadmap has not been published since 2005, and since DOD has not taken any action on this recommendation, we will close this recommendation with no action taken.

    Recommendation: To further develop results-oriented management tools that can guide DOD's transformation of joint military capabilities, measure progress, and determine whether initiatives are achieving their desired results, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, to direct the Commander, Joint Forces Command, to include in future updates to the Joint Transformation Roadmap (1) a discussion of how the capabilities being developed will link with and support accomplishment of the long-term goals; (2) results-oriented performance goals linked to long-term goals, which also reflect the joint concepts and gaps in current capabilities, that establish intended performance, focus on outcomes or results expected or required, and establish target dates for the achievement of these results; (3) performance measures based on the performance goals to assess progress; and (4) resources required (for nonmateriel as well as materiel efforts) to obtain capabilities for each joint concept and linkage of resources with each performance goal.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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