“The Pentagon’s new acquisition plan creates almost a dozen new offices, in what the department hopes will be a streamlined organization better able to manage the needs of today while developing the technologies of tomorrow.
On Aug. 1, the department delivered to Congress its plan for devolving the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, sustainment and technology, or AT&L, into two smaller organizations — the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, or USDR&E, and the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, or USDA&S.
Those changes are required to be implemented by Feb. 1, 2018.
Among the notable changes, three quasi-independent offices — the Strategic Capabilities Office, the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — will be folded two levels under the USDR&E, while a new analysis cell will be set up to drive how the Pentagon invests its money for the future.
The Missile Defense Agency will also be rolled under the USDR&E, at a time when the Trump administration has made missile defense a priority for the department.
It is important to remember this is just the Pentagon’s plan, and in many cases the document is purposefully vague about details. Congress will still have its say and could make wholesale changes to the structure.
However, in reading the document, it appears the Pentagon took to heart the guidance in boththe 2016 and 2017 versions of the National Defense Authorization Act, which contained major reforms championed by both Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, the chairmen of their respective committees.
In addition to the breakup of AT&L, the report focuses on what should be the responsibilities of the new chief management officer. By admission of the report itself, the CMO layout will continue to evolve in the future as the Pentagon itself changes and as offices transform.
As currently envisioned, the CMO will have six ”reform leaders” who will oversee changes to logistics and supply chain; real property; community services; human resources; health care; and a broader performance management reform leader, who will be responsible to work with the CMO and deputy secretary to establish “a process for routinely managing the progress of the functional reforms and IT business system deployments against the plan using those goals and other measures.”
It also creates a program executive for IT business systems, with the express goal of bringing down the number of individual IT systems across the department and streamlining them.
One item left unanswered in the report — where the current assistant secretary of defense for energy, installations and environment office ends up. That could be placed in either the USDA&S bucket or in the CMO’s office.
That is an answer that Lucian Niemeyer, confirmed Aug. 1 for that job, will certainly be focused on. If any base closure round is approved in the next few years, he would be the point man for handling it, perhaps making the case his office should slide over to the CMO.”