Introduction:

The Department of Defense (DoD) is about to undergo one of its more significant reorganizations since the Goldwater-Nichols Act transformed the Department’s chain of command three decades ago. The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act mandates that the Office of the Under Secretary of Acquisition, Technology & Logistics (OUSD(AT&L)) divide into two distinct Under Secretaries by February 2018: one for Research & Engineering (R&E) and another for Acquisition & Sustainment (A&S). In a statement, Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, observed that the technological advancements made by nation-state competitors are “increasing [the] risk of losing the military technological dominance that we have taken for granted for thirty years.” Accordingly, Chairman McCain concluded that “innovation cannot be an auxiliary office at the Department of Defense. It must be the central mission of its acquisition system.”

Currently, OUSD(AT&L) is responsible for over 17 different portfolios, including acquisition, logistics, research & development, and installation management. Successfully dividing the responsibilities associated with these portfolios between two new undersecretaries will be challenging. It will require a coherent business case aligned with a transparent roadmap for implementation, in which all employees understand their role. This approach is an industry-standard and was one of the key observations by a group of Business Executives for National Security (BENS) Members who offered their insight into how to accomplish the OUSD(AT&L) split. In partnership with the House Armed Services Committee, BENS Members outlined the keys for success during a corporate reorganization. This included specific recommendations for how to:

• Divide responsibilities between corporate and division levels;
• Maintain accountability throughout an organization;
• Conduct market research;
• Implement data governance processes;
• Effectively manage talent and empower lower-level employees; and
• Manage the interface between R&E and A&S.

This insight is not intended to be overly prescriptive. Rather, it serves to highlight issues, as identified by industry leaders, that the Department and/or Congress may consider as they examine ways to enable a more agile acquisition process through the OUSD(AT&L) reorganization.

More Publications

NationalDefenseAuthorizationActFY2022

BENS Summary of the FY22 NDAA Bill Highlights

On December 7th and December 15th respectively, the House of Representatives and the Senate passed S.1605, the conferenced text of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022. The…

BENS Leadership Report 2021 Final Cover 800w

BENS 2021 Leadership Report

The 2021 Leadership Report captures the highlights of our BENS activities over the last year. Given the extraordinary environment in which we are operating — I hope that you will…

President Biden After Signing The Infrastructure Investment And Job Act Into Law

BENS Overview of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law on November 15th, funds projects and grants to build more resilient, modern, and secure infrastructure across the United States. This overview…

Receive BENS news and insights in your inbox.