In his Perspectives column in the next issue of Government Executive, Editor at Large Tim Clark writes about a dialogue with former Defense Secretary Robert Gates conducted in connection with his acceptance of the Elliot L. Richardson Prize for Excellence in Public Administration from the National Academy of Public Administration in March. The piece includes this terrific quote:
"The Pentagon is an organization structured to plan for war, not to wage war. Most programs are years in preparation, years in execution. So where do you go to find the kind of rapid response that gets things in the field quickly? I found that in every instance I had to go outside the bureaucracy and create something new -- create a task force that would report directly to me. Partly it's structural. Because so many organizations in the Pentagon have a say on any single program or issue, getting something through the bureaucracy is a huge challenge. So the words 'Pentagon' and 'agility' have never appeared in the same sentence, so far as I know, without a negative involved."
The issue will go out to subscribers and be posted on GovExec.com on May 1.