Report: Pentagon needs to improve business practices

At a hearing, the Department of Defense was said to have a culture that’s resistant to change. GAO stated the military is vulnerable to waste, fraud and abuse.

Author: Mike Gooding
Published: 5:34 PM EDT April 27, 2021
Updated: 5:34 PM EDT April 27, 2021

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon spends billions of dollars each year to maintain key business operations and defense-wide agencies and programs intended to support the warfighter.

The Department of Defense has long sought to improve its processes to manage contracts, finances, and supply chain.

But, the Government Accountability Office says the DOD is limited by the lack of reliable information, hampering its ability to monitor and inform its reform efforts. 

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“DOD suffers from an alarming lack of accurate and consistent data on almost all of its core business functions,” said Elizabeth Field, Director of Defense Capabilities and Management for the Government Accountability Office as she testified Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Field continued, “This problem makes it exceptionally difficult for anyone who wants to drive changes. Our report cites numerous instances in which DOD data were so unreliable or inconsistent that we could not assess underlying issues.”

Dr. Adam Grant, Saul P. Steinberg Professor of Management at the Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania also spoke.

He said: “I’m afraid the DOD is still, by and large, doing 1950’s-era management.”

Committee members expressed concern.

“These management inefficiencies and a culture of bureaucratic stasis end up costing taxpayers’ money because they create unnecessary waste,” said Sen. Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island).

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) said he’s worried the military can’t compete in attracting the best and brightest, especially when it comes to high-tech jobs.

“The DOD is not an attractive place for smart, talented young people to go and solve tough problems,” he said.

The GAO says the Defense Department has not taken the necessary steps to achieve and sustain business reform on a broad, strategic, department-wide, and integrated basis.

And, it says, DOD’s historical approach to business transformation has not proven effective in achieving meaningful and sustainable progress in a timely manner.

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