17 January 2009

Lynn Vows to Reform Processes if Confirmed as Deputy Secretary

The nominee to be deputy defense secretary promised the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday that he will do his utmost to improve processes in the "sometimes vast and unwieldy bureaucracy" of the Defense Department.

The committee held hearings for four nominees to serve in the Defense Department as part of the administration of President-elect Barack Obama. They are Lynn; Robert Hale as undersecretary of defense for financial management; Michele Flournoy as undersecretary for policy; and Jeh Charles Johnson as the department's general counsel.

Lynn, who served as the department's comptroller in the Clinton administration, said he sees the deputy job as having co-equal responsibilities.

"On one hand, I'll work alongside the secretary to advance our national security strategy," he said. "On the other hand, as the chief management officer, I will have primary responsibility for ensuring the smooth functioning of a vast and sometimes unwieldy bureaucracy."

If confirmed, Lynn initially would focus on three challenges. The first is a smooth civilian transition, he said.

"I would work with the secretary and the Congress to assemble a top-quality cadre of civilian leaders," he said. "As part of that effort, I would also place a high priority on strengthening the capabilities of the career staff who are essential to address the many near-term challenges as well as the longer-term tasks of the department."

Lynn said he also would like to conduct at least three sets of major program and budget reviews in the next few months. These include a review of the 2009 supplemental appropriation, revisions to the draft fiscal 2010 budget and its timely submission to Congress, and the expeditious completion of the Quadrennial Defense Review.

Part of this will be to establish the right balance among capabilities for addressing "irregular and counter-insurgency warfare, potential longer-term threats from a high-end or a near-term competitor and the proliferation of threats from rogue states or terrorist organizations," Lynn said.

Another challenge, he said, is to reform Defense Department processes.

"If confirmed, I would devote considerable time and energy to improving the department's processes for strategic planning, program and budget development and acquisition oversight," he said. "At a time when we face a wide range of national security challenges and unprecedented budget pressures, acquisition reform is not an option; it is an imperative."

Lynn vowed to ensure that every tax dollar to the department is used wisely and effectively, adding that good processes would be key.

"The key to getting a handle on program costs is to ensure that we are able to establish the requirements up front and adhere to those requirements," he said.

An important part of reforming the system is to rebuild the acquisition workforce, Lynn said.

"We've had an increase in the program costs and not a corresponding increase in the acquisition workforce," he said. "There's also a bubble of retirement. Many of the current workforce is eligible for retirement. They're going to need to be replaced with expert personnel."

Workforce development is going to be an important part of improving and developing the future cadres of the defense acquisition workforce, he said.

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
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