Defense Management: DOD Has Taken Initial Steps to Formulate an Organizational Strategy, but These Efforts Are Not Complete

GAO-17-523R Published: Jun 23, 2017. Publicly Released: Jun 23, 2017.
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Why GAO Did This Study

Section 911 of the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2017 directed the Secretary of Defense to, among other things, formulate an organizational strategy for DOD that identifies the critical objectives and other outputs which span multiple functional boundaries and would benefit from the use of cross-functional teams to ensure collaboration and integration across the department. Section 911 of the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2017 also included a provision for GAO, not later than 6 months after the date of enactment, December 23, 2016, and every 6 months thereafter through December 31, 2019, to submit to the defense committees a report setting forth a comprehensive assessment of the actions that DOD has taken pursuant to section 911 during each 6-month period, and cumulatively since enactment.

This report describes the extent to which DOD has implemented section 911 of the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2017 during the first 6-month reporting period--December 23, 2016, through June 23, 2017. GAO reviewed DOD planning documents to implement the requirements and interviewed officials from the Office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer as well as subject-matter experts.

What GAO Found

The Department of Defense (DOD) has taken steps in three areas to begin implementing the requirements of section 911 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2017. In particular, the act required DOD to, among other things, (1) provide training to individuals, who have been appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate to a position within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, on leadership, modern organizational practice, collaboration, and the operation of cross-functional teams within 3 months of appointment; (2) award a contract to study how to best implement cross-functional teams in DOD; and (3) develop and issue an organizational strategy. First, DOD has begun exploring options for providing training focused on the required elements to those individuals nominated by the President to positions within the Office of the Secretary of Defense and confirmed by the Senate. According to DOD officials, DOD is planning to use existing training as well as develop additional training--in conjunction with subject matter experts--to meet this requirement. Second, DOD awarded a contract for the study on leading practices for cross-functional teams on June 9, 2017, after the required date of March 15, 2017. According to DOD officials, budgetary constraints resulting from the delay in enacting a defense appropriations bill for fiscal year 2017 hampered the ability of the department to award this contract by the required date, as there were not sufficient funds available to be obligated for the full estimated contract price without negatively impacting existing contractual commitments that rely on the same funding sources. DOD will deliver the results of the study to Congress in August 2017, after the required date of July 15, 2017 because of the delay in awarding the contract. Third, DOD officials stated that the Secretary of Defense is taking initial steps to develop an organizational strategy for the department and expects the strategy to be completed by September 1, 2017.

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