Lawmakers press DOD on chief management officer

Two prominent lawmakers are threatening to force the Defense Department to name a chief management officer if officials do not submit a report about whether the agency should establish the new position.

Sen. John Ensign (R-Ariz.), ranking member of the Armed Forces Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, today at a hearing on interagency contracting told Shay Assad, director of Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy, that he would submit a provision in the fiscal 2008 DOD Authorization bill that would require DOD to create the position if they did not send the entire report as required by Congress.

Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), chairman of the subcommittee, followed Ensign's warning with one of his own, saying he would seriously consider such a provision if DOD did not submit the entire report to the subcommittee.

Akaka and Ensign are upset with DOD officials' failure to submit the report on time, and over the fact that officials told them they would only send them the recommendations and not the entire report.

Congress required DOD in the 2006 Defense Authorization bill to submit a report by Dec. 1, 2006 on 'the feasibility and advisability of establishing a Deputy Secretary of Defense for Management.'

The study was to look at how a CMO would improve DOD management, expedite management reform across the department and improve business systems modernization. The analysis also was to look at what is the appropriate relationship of the new position to other DOD officials, the appropriate term of service and the experience of other federal agencies with a similar management position, such as the Government Accountability Office.

Assad told the lawmakers that he was not aware that the report was not delivered yet.

'The report is complete and is being reviewed by senior leadership,' he said. 'Beyond that, I can't say much more about the status. I know it will be completed in March.'

DOD has been against the establishment of a CMO ever since GAO started pushing for one since at least 2003. Officials have said they don't believe another manager will help put their business transformation on the right track.

But GAO and others, including the Defense Business Board and other lawmakers, have said that the CMO would make a difference.

'Because of the complexity and long-term nature of DOD's business transformation efforts, a CMO with significant authority, experience, and tenure is needed to provide sustained leadership and momentum,' GAO said today in its report on high-risk areas on the government.

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