William Lynn: A “DepSecDef” you can believe in
By Dov Zakheim Laura Rozen is reporting today that William Lynn is getting pretty good odds to be the next Deputy Secretary of Defense. Al Kamen also has it here. Lynn would bring the right set of skills to the job of Deputy Secretary. Lynn’s background as an analyst, as Director of the Department of ...
By Dov Zakheim
By Dov Zakheim
Laura Rozen is reporting today that William Lynn is getting pretty good odds to be the next Deputy Secretary of Defense. Al Kamen also has it here.
Lynn would bring the right set of skills to the job of Deputy Secretary. Lynn’s background as an analyst, as Director of the Department of Defense (DOD) program analysis office, and as Comptroller make him eminently qualified for the Deputy job. So does the fact that he has spent time in industry, as well as on Capitol Hill, where it is critical that the Department maintain good relations as it addresses inevitable programmatic and budgetary trade-offs.
The "DepSecDef" is now also formally designated as the Department’s Chief Management Officer (CMO). His job is not to make policy; it is to make the trains run on time. And in DOD the trains have often run late, if they run at all.
The DepSecDef needs to clean up the Department’s broken acquisition system. It is a sign of the sad state of affairs in the Pentagon that the Department’s own Secretary publicly acknowledges that he has to end-run his own acquisition system in order to field weapons quickly. The Department revised its acquisition guidelines in December. Guidelines are one thing; implementation is something else entirely.
The DepSecDef also needs to ensure that the momentum of financial reform that began in 2001 not slow down. "Clean audits" and financial transparency and accountability are not simply an accountant’s wet dream. They are critical for maintaining public confidence in the Department’s ability to make the best use of the vast sums that the Congress entrusts to it each year.
Finally, the Deputy must manage the transition to a viable National Security Personnel System that underpins the process of overhauling, retraining, and re-educating an aging bureaucracy that in many instances has not kept up with best business practices in management and processes.
In other words, the Deputy’s job is very much the CMO job; it is not to be some sort of alter ego to the Secretary, focusing on security policy and international relations, and attaching priority to sitting alongside the Secretary at meetings with foreign officials.
The current incumbent, Gordon England, understood the nature of his job as well as anyone in the past three decades. He inherited a dysfunctional management system and strived mightily, and with some success, to restore efficiency and effectiveness to Pentagon operations. More needs to be done, and his successor needs to be cast in England’s mold.
Lynn’s background points to his following in England’s footsteps. So does the fact that he, like England, is not an ideologue. There may be a place for ideologues, and Secretarial alter egos, but the Deputy’s job — any Cabinet deputy’s job — is not one of them.
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