Defense review calls for major management changes

The Defense Department must improve how it recruits and retains workers, rebuild or eliminate unneeded infrastructure and outsource some support jobs to transform today's military into a more agile and flexible force, according to the newly released Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). "Transformation applies not to just what DoD does, but how DoD does it," states the QDR, a sweeping military strategy review that Congress requires the Pentagon to complete every four years. Defense sent the QDR to lawmakers on Sept. 30. According to the review, the Defense Department will assess all its functions and determine what work must be done in-house and what work can be performed by contractors through privatization or partnerships. "Any function that can be provided by the private sector is not a core government function. Traditionally, core has been very loosely and imprecisely defined and too often used as a way of protecting existing arrangements," the report said. Unneeded infrastructure will also be eliminated. Defense has as much as 25 percent more facility infrastructure than it needs, the report said. "Dollars that could be spent on transformation priorities are being used to maintain installations that may no longer be needed." The Defense Department has called for additional base closures in 2003 as way to eliminate the excess infrastructure. Congress, however, must sign off on any more closings. It is still unclear whether the Pentagon will win new authority to shut down military bases. The review also recommended that Defense give "top priority" to improved employee training and recruiting and retention efforts. "It will require new rules for hiring and managing personnel," the QDR said. Accordingly, Defense will develop a strategic human capital plan that will identify tools to shape the military and civilian workforce into the proper mix of "high-quality, skilled and professional people." The Defense review makes no recommendations for cutting the current military forces, nor does it offer any suggestions for eliminating weapon systems. Instead, the report lays out a broad military strategy that calls for the U.S. to continue to fight two major conflicts simultaneously; conduct small-scale contingency operations; provide homeland defense; and deter aggression and coercion outside the U.S.
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