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This year I asked all of our Program Executive Officers (PEOs) to provide short assessments and recommendations to me directly. The result, as it was for the Program Manager Assessments I’ve received for the last 2 years, has been a treasure trove of observations and recommendations covering a wide range of topics. I thought it would be useful and insightful for the entire workforce to see some of these professional, and very frank, comments. I’ve removed most inputs that were about specific programs and edited lightly to make some of the inputs less Service specific. Arranged alphabetically by topic, and presented without comment, here is a sampling of the topics on our senior line managers’ minds as they confront the many challenges we face.
Risks, issues and opportunities are programmatic hurdles for many acquisition personnel. For example, program offices deal with technical risks in the form of technologies that are not mature enough or are unable to provide the same capability in production that was achieved in development. They also deal with cost risks such as an insufficient budget or budgetary cost overruns and program efforts that take longer than scheduled due to requirements growth.
Terms like risk analysis, risk assessment, and risk management often are used interchangeably and can include a variety of different concepts or strategies. Approaches can be simple or complex, although simpler is almost always better. Properly conducted risk management permits decision making based on realistic scenario assumptions and provides defensible justification, before limited resources are committed.
Every organization struggles with recruiting and retaining the quality personnel needed to meet the ever-evolving requirements of the mission. Today’s workforce complexity adds a unique challenge. As every manager and supervisor knows, the required work becomes more challenging over time, not less so.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter issued a challenge to the defense establishment to think “outside the five-sided box” and apply innovative solutions to today’s national security challenges. Innovation in the Department of Defense (DoD) isn’t easy. It’s harder to innovate in the government than in the private sector; that’s just the way it is. It’s not easy, but it can be done. For those leaders and innovators who work inside the DoD acquisition system, here are some observations: