From the top: guidance and priorities of the CJCS: applying the guidance and priorities of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the resource and financial management community.
General Pace's priorities are to win the war on terrorism, accelerate transformation, strengthen joint warfighting, and improve the quality of life of service members and their families. His enablers are organizational agility, speed of action and decision, collaboration, outreach, and professional development.
This article will examine some of the specifics of General Pace's guidance and its application to our resource management community. As you will come to understand, every element of the Chairman's guidance has direct application to our community, whether located at the Pentagon, joint or major commands or installations, activities, and units. It directly addresses how we as resource managers perform our missions and manage our organizations. We are charged with the accountability of resources, management of internal controls, and advising our commanders on the marginal application of increases or decreases in resources. As we perform our duties, it is critical that we understand and apply command guidance to our particular situations.
Information, perception, and how and what we communicate are critical. Resource and financial managers are dependent on written communication to inform subordinate activities of program, budget, and manpower guidance. We communicate in both formal and informal ways. The guidance we issue is the most direct means of communicating our command's priorities to others. How funds and manpower are allocated most clearly articulates what is important to the command.
However, the mere communication of data without a complete explanation of the commander's intent can result in confusion, misinterpretation, and misapplication by those receiving the information. Staffs spend days debating allocation of resources, and those involved in the debate fully understand how and why the ultimate allocations are arrived at; however, those receiving the information usually do not. Therefore, it is essential that the guidance fully explain the commander's intent, what performance is expected from those who receive the resources, and what is to be accomplished.
Transformation is a willingness to embrace innovation and accept analyzed risk. There are not enough resources available for us to do the essential tasks required to accomplish our missions. And it is unlikely that we will be provided enough in the future. Consequently, resource and financial managers must lead the way to reengineer our business practices to make them less costly and more efficient. We must foster risk analysis and ensure that decision makers are fully aware of the risks involved in their decisions. Much of risk analysis involves exposing and examining the underlying assumptions that functional staffs make in identifying projects to be funded or decremented. Once those assumptions are identified, we must determine the probabilities of the likelihood of the assumption being correct, and then establish the means to mitigate the risk. This information must be presented to decision makers--and it is the resource and financial manager's job to ensure that this communication occurs.
Focus on transitioning from an interoperable to an interdependent force. The essence of this comment involves trust and the elimination of redundancy. One of the major issues facing both the Department of Defense (DoD) and its resource management community is the lack of trust and the resulting redundancy. In the resource and financial management world, it seems that the Office of the Secretary of Defense does not trust the services, the services do not trust their major commands, the major commands do not trust installations, activities, and units, and vice versa. Lack of trust has been exacerbated by funding anomalies related to the Global War on Terrorism, such as having to "cash flow" the war, late appropriations and the need for supplementals, last-minute reprogramming, unspecified reductions, unspecified efficiencies, and the pressure to obligate dollars to justify more dollars. It is essential that we trust each other, perhaps to the point that one resource management office supports numerous organizations. Trust develops from open and frank communication.
Bringing our people home alive and intact is Quality of Life Job #1. As stewards of taxpayers' resources, we are obligated to protect the dollars and comply with fiscal law. We also have a higher obligation to protect the well-being of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines by reducing bureaucratic rules and infighting. We must employ imagination and innovation in obtaining the resources our forces need. Even though it may be convenient to just say no to a new resource requirement, we must find the ways and means to support and protect the deployed force.
Overcome avoidance of risk and a reliance on consensus. One of the most difficult functions of resource and financial managers is to reach consensus--consensus of the staff and subordinate command and activities about how to realize the priorities of the commander. Too often we succumb to compromise to avoid the risk of conflict and controversy. Although compromise may facilitate reaching staff agreement, it often results in unspecified reductions and suboptimal "salami slice" cuts. While the result has the appearance of equity and agreement, it fundamentally fails our responsibility to provide the decision maker with the options and knowledge of risks needed to achieve his or her priorities. It is our job to help the decision maker make the hard decisions.
Who else needs to know what you know? The issue of information transparency is a problem to the resource management community. Within a bureaucracy, information is perceived as power; however, the failure to share information produces a major organizational weakness. The lingering environment of mistrust is caused partly by the lack of transparency in our data and information. The more that claimants know about what is happening and why, the more time they will have to anticipate and consider appropriate alternatives. Bottom line: Trust, transparency, and sharing information are essential among all levels of resource manangement organizations.
Build proactive outreach programs to nontraditional partners. In the words of the entrepreneur, we must "leverage our resources." To the degree to which we partner with the private sector and with local and state governments, other DoD components, other federal agencies, and other countries, we can stretch our limited dollars and manpower. For example, we may have land and facilities that can be put to joint use, thereby serving as a vehicle for generating resources or gaining no- or low-cost access to resources that those partners may have available. The leveraging of our limited resources is a necessity.
To do this, however, we must be willing to reduce redundancy, trust others, and accept risk.
Ensure that our subordinates, civilian and military, are positioned to succeed. Every resource and financial manager must make effective management of human capital a top priority. Not only do we owe it to our subordinates--military, civilian, and contractors--we owe it to the success of our organization and its mission accomplishment. We need to do succession planning. We need to monitor our people's performance and growth. We need to give them the opportunity to go to school and cross-train in other positions. The better we train our staff members, the more capable they will be in getting the job done.
What capabilities, you ask? How many of our people understand and use Lean Six Sigma, performance budgeting, capabilities-based planning, risk analysis, matrix management, normalization, joint capability areas, statistical sampling, balanced scorecard, and contracting? If they don't, what are we doing to get them up to speed? Our resource management organizations will be only as innovative as our people. We must train and develop our staffs--we must become learning organizations.
We are in a period of major transition and transformation throughout the DoD. We also are in a period of declining resources. The Department's success will depend largely on how well the resource and financial management community performs in employing more efficient and effective practices. We must do this while continuing to perform our day-to-day stewardship responsibilities. Our success will depend on our willingness to lead change, to build trust at and between all levels, to understand and accept risk, to develop open and transparent databases, and to develop our workforce. To quote again from the Chairman's guidance, we must "be an agile, empowered, innovative, and results-oriented organization."
Did You Know ...
41,507 Number of civilian defense financial managers (GS 500 series) in the Department of Defense as of September 2005, according to the Office of Personnel Management
10,340 Number of active duty military personnel with a financial-related occupation code as of August 2005, according to the Defense Manpower Data Center
7.7 The average annual percentage pay raise for General Schedule civilians during the past 10 years, according to data supplied by the OSD Comptroller
4.0 The average annual percentage across-the-board raise for military personnel during the same period
2.2 The average annual percentage increase in the consumer price index (CPI-W) during this period
4,523 Average number of civilian financial managers in each of the other 14 cabinet-level agencies
385 Number of civilian financial managers in the cabinet-level agency with the fewest such personnel (Department of Education)
5 The number of years out of the last eight when Congress failed to enact the main defense appropriation bill by the beginning of the fiscal year
74 Average number of days the Congress was late during those 5 years
10,409 Number of those financial managers who are age 55 or older
3,103 Number of those financial managers who are younger than age 25
Colonel (Retired, U.S. Army) David B. Berg is the director of Execution Education for the Whitman School of Management, Syracuse University A member of ASMC, he is on the Society's Certification Commission and the Editorial Board.
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|Publication:||Armed Forces Comptroller|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2006|
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