What DOD’s Reorg Means For Tech And Acquisition

2017-08-17T11:07:15+00:00 August 17, 2017|
The Pentagon. (Credit: Patrickneil, Flickr)

(Click to enlarge) The Pentagon. (Credit: Patrickneil, Flickr)

The Pentagon has released its long-anticipated report detailing plans to restructure the organizations that manage acquisition and technology research for the Department of Defense.

(From FWC / by Troy K. Schnieder) — The so-called Section 901 report, officially titled “Restructuring the Department of Defense Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Organization and Chief Management Officer Organization,” was delivered to Congress on Aug. 1.

The basic structures of the reorg were set by the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. Section 901 of the NDAA mandated the breakup of AT&L and the creation of a chief management officer position within DOD.

The congressional mandate “provides a once in a generation opportunity to improve how [DOD] is organized and operates,” the report states, and it notes that improving the department’s ability to advance technology and innovation is the reorganization’s primary goal.

The outlined changes are to be completed by Feb. 1, 2018.

The biggest change is the division of AT&L into two separate organizations — one focused on acquisition and sustainment (A&S), the other on research and engineering (R&E) — each led by a dedicated undersecretary of defense.

Current AT&L Undersecretary Ellen Lord, who was nominated in late June and confirmed a month later, presumably will shift to the A&S undersecretary job when the reorganization eliminates the AT&L position.

The R&E undersecretary post, which the report says will play the CTO role for DOD and have “responsibility and authority for ensuring U.S. military technical superiority,” does not have a similar incumbent.

David Berteau, the former assistant secretary of defense for logistics and materiel readiness who is now CEO of the Professional Services Council, told FCW that recruiting for that position — and clarifying its scope — should now become a top priority.

“Somewhere out there they’re recruiting somebody for a job that won’t exist until next February,” Berteau said. “It seems to me that if you want the top talent that [DOD] needs and this position is being created to attract, it would be helpful if you could define the boundaries and responsibilities and interfaces of that job with the rest of the department. I’m not sure that this report does that, and I’m not sure that the existing statute does that. “

The report seems to acknowledge that challenge, and states that establishing the R&E structure “is the first priority of implementing the new organization.” 

The report also makes at least some interfaces and reporting structures immediately clear — notably the placement of both the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency squarely under R&E. DARPA has long been a quasi-autonomous organization, and former Defense Secretary Ash Carter had DIUx report directly to him. 

Read the full story here: https://fcw.com/articles/2017/08/04/dod-901-reorg-schneider.aspx