Defense Department file photo

Defense Management Chief Reportedly On His Way Out Over Performance Problems

John Gibson was working on reductions in headquarters overhead and largest-ever financial audit.

John "Jay" Gibson, whom President Trump named last January as the Pentagon’s first-ever chief management officer, is being asked leave for “lack of performance," the Wall Street Journal reported.

An aerospace executive who was brought in to reduce headquarters overhead and cut waste, Gibson was reportedly told by Deputy Secretary Pat Shanahan more than a month ago that his days were limited, pending selection of a replacement.

The Defense Department public affairs office did not respond immediately to a request for comment from Government Executive. The decision is attributed to Secretary Jim Mattis.

Gibson, who previously served as deputy chief management officer, was placed in a job that one unnamed defender called “thankless” at a time when the department was absorbing its largest budget increase in years. But new requirements in the annual National Defense Authorization Act are forcing reductions in the so-called “4th estate” of headquarters servicing offices as well as the largest audit of the department’s finances—the government’s largest-ever undertaken.

The fiscal 2019 authorization act passed last month required 25 percent cuts in central offices, but was no guarantee of actual savings.

The audit, involving thousands of staff and an estimated price tag of $1 billion, was highlighted by Gibson in March testimony to Congress. The audit will “reveal business systems and processes which need to be reformed and can be incorporated into our ongoing reform efforts” in shared services and obtaining enterprise-wide cost data, he said. “By improving these business processes we drive improved operational measures such as timeliness, productivity and simplification,” Gibson added. “Many of these processes will have direct, positive impacts on lethality.”

In June, Gibson’s responsibility for the overseeing the department’s new investments in cloud information technology components was handed to Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy.

Secretary Mattis himself this week became the subject of speculation that the White House is seeking to replace him.