Thursday, January 27, 2011

DoD Budget Cuts

To cut or not to cut...
Where to cut...

This discussion is on main US stage right now. It made it into the State of the Union address last night. Yet, this is an over simplification of the real questions we should be asking. It ignores what Transformation is all about.

If someone decides that they need to lose weight, the simplest and most expeditious way is to lop off an arm or a leg. Doing so will ensure that a person will lose weight fast, but treating a weight problem with this kind of solution causes collateral damage and it ignores the fact that, baring legitimate medical pathology, poor decision making is a root cause. Every time a person reaches for fast food, junk food, eats more than they need to, or decides not to exercise, a little more fat is the result.

The DoD is great at making tactical and strategic combat related decisions. One could argue that the US DoD is the best in the world at this. It is also terrible at making business investment decisions. Poor decisions collected over the years have put a lot of "fat" on this beast & it is causing the DoD to be operating in poor health. Vital resources that should be flowing to needed operations are plugged up in redundant investments, un-needed investments, poorly executed investments, under-executed investments, etc.

One look at the numbers submitted as a "business case" for these investments would reveal just how healthy DoD business investment decision making is. A look at the supporting documents and information (missing or wildly incomplete solutions architecture, self-certifying compliance letters, undefined milestones, recycled arguments, etc) being used to inform decision makers would reveal the quality of DoD due diligence. And a look at the actions produced by our decision making system in terms of redundancies allowed to continue, follow up (or not), course corrections (or not), accountability (or not), and management of the Department bottom line would reveal the overall quality and effect of the decisions the DoD's current decision making system is producing.

There is another way to lose weight. A way to make cuts without so much collateral damage. Change our habits. Make sure our decision making "food" is grown with care and in good shape by setting (and checking) the standard for business cases and supporting documents. Consume good information instead of information "fast food." Exercise our decision making powers by forcing course corrections, remembering where we were yesterday, and setting (and sticking to) a strategy for where we will be tomorrow.

Core legislation (Public Law 108-375, 10USC2222, 10USC186, and the 2005 NDAA) gave the DoD the tools it needs to get healthy. The Business Enterprise Architecture (BEA), the Enterprise Transition Plan (ETP), an Investment Review (Due Diligence) process and governing bodies, an Annual Review and even threw in a way to get and keep the DoD on the path to better health - the ADA.

What are your thoughts about losing weight in the DoD?

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