Congress calls on Defense to revamp investment review boards

The fiscal 2012 Defense Authorization Act lawmakers approved last week includes a provision requiring the Pentagon to overhaul its investment review boards, Federal News Radio reported.

Congress has set a March 2012 deadline for the Defense Department to reconfigure the process by which its panels sign off on business systems expected to cost more than $1 million in their lifetime. Lawmakers want to ensure such decisions aren't being made in isolation.

Defense Deputy Chief Management Officer Beth McGrath told Federal News Radio she wants to take "a holistic perspective across the environment" and is shooting for a cross-functional approach to the revamp. McGrath said she would prefer to use available information to consider systems approvals on a case-by-case basis rather than "across-the-board cuts."

McGrath wants to emphasize transparency in the approach, similar to Defense's recently released Strategic Management Plan, which received high marks from the Government Accountability Office.

The proposed review board overhaul draws negative comparisons to a previous Defense effort that attempted a decisions-through-data approach: the Pentagon's botched Defense Integrated Human Management Resources System, which cost more than $1 billion over 12 years and failed to become the department's hoped for "massive enterprise resource planning system" by the time it was canceled in 2010.

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