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Monday, November 1, 2004
Mr. Lawrence: Good morning and welcome to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, partner in charge of The IBM Center for The Business of Government. We created The Center in 1998 to encourage discussion and research into new ways to improving government performance. Learn more about The Center by visiting us at businessofgovernment.org.
The Business of Government Radio Show Hour features a conversation with a government executive who is changing the way government does business. Our special guest this morning is Dr. Ron DeHaven, administrator of the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
Good morning, Dr. DeHaven.
Dr. DeHaven: Good morning. Thank you for having me on your show.
Mr. Lawrence: And joining us in our conversation, also from IBM, is Mike Wasson.
Good morning, Mike.
Mr. Wasson: Good morning, Paul. Thank you for being here.
Mr. Lawrence: Well, Dr. DeHaven, let's start by learning more about APHIS. Could you tell us about the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and its role within USDA?
Dr. DeHaven: Certainly. Our motto within APHIS is "Safeguarding American Agriculture," which I think really speaks to what we do. We're responsible for ensuring safe and healthy agricultural products, both on the plant and animal side. Indeed, Secretary Veneman at one point had made reference that if she were starting to rebuild the USDA all over again, she would start with the foundation, that being APHIS. We have several program units within the agency -- veterinary services, plant protection quarantine, biotechnology regulatory services, wildlife services, international services, and animal care -- all of which speak to the specific roles we have in a very broad mission area.
Mr. Lawrence: How do you describe the size? I mean, you've gone through a wide range of programs. Could you tell us about the budget, and even the skills of the people on your team?
Dr. DeHaven: In terms of the budget, it's actually grown quite dramatically. In Fiscal Year '01, we had an appropriation, or appropriated budget, of $445 million. The President's budget for Fiscal Year '05 is $828 million. That, taken along with the frequent apportionment of monies for emergency purposes, which in the last few years have averaged at about $250 million a year, we're basically a billion-dollar agency.
In terms of numbers of people, there again, the numbers vary depending on what you're looking at. In terms of full-time permanent employees, we're somewhere in excess of 4,000 employees, but when also including Foreign Service national employees around the world and temporary employees that we hire, we're in excess of 7,000 people.
Mr. Lawrence: And the skills of these folks?
Dr. DeHaven: Wide variety, as you might guess, given the program units that we have in the agency. On the plant side, we have plant pathologists and botanists. On the animal health side, veterinarians and epidemiologists. We employ wildlife biologists, biotechnologists, program analysts, economists. We have a public affairs staff with several public affairs specialists and writer/editors, and then also, because of the monies that we involve, contracting specialists and financial managers.
Mr. Wasson: Well, Dr. DeHaven, can you share with us your roles and responsibilities as administrator for APHIS?
Dr. DeHaven: I look at my job as providing the vision and leadership for this agency; ensuring that we have the resources, both human and financial, to carry out our mission; and then represent the agency in a variety of situations, both internally and externally.
Mr. Wasson: In April of 2004, you became administrator of APHIS. Can you tell us a little bit about the background before you became administrator?
Dr. DeHaven: Well, I graduated from veterinary school, Purdue University, in 1975, and actually went to school with the intent of being a small animal, dog and cat practitioner. I did four years with the Army Veterinary Corps, which I found very rewarding, and during that period also gained some clinical practice experience. But at the end of my tenure in the Army, I was intrigued by government service, and actually then took my first job with the government in APHIS in 1979. I spent the first six years of my career, which I think was very valuable, in the field as a field veterinary medical officer dealing with primarily livestock disease issues.
From there, I moved into a middle management position as the assistant area veterinarian in charge in our state of Mississippi. And then, four years after that, started a 12-year stint in our animal care program, overseeing administration of the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act. It was then about four years ago that I came back to our veterinary services unit as the deputy administrator of that organization and, of course, have been the administrator now for two years.
So I think what I find most interesting is that I went to veterinary school with the intent of being a dog and cat practitioner, now find myself as a Washington bureaucrat with far more reaching implications and responsibilities when it comes to both animal and plant health, and enjoying myself as a Washington bureaucrat, something that back in 1975, I would never have imagined happening.
Mr. Wasson: You have an interesting background, where you have both a doctor of veterinary medicine and an MBA. How did you combine your two degrees for maximum effectiveness in the work environment?
Dr. DeHaven: As I mentioned with my veterinary degree, I think that degree has opened up a wide array of opportunities, both from clinical medicine to being a Washington bureaucrat. The master's in business administration came at a time when I had made the career decision that I wanted to stay with government and focus on management of programs and people. I realized at the time, and actually fully came to realize during the course of obtaining that degree, that we need to market ourselves and run our government agencies like business runs itself. And so I think through both degrees, the doctor of veterinary medicine and the MBA, I've had the technical background, the technical experience, but also now the management experience to provide oversight and leadership for a government agency and focus on running government like a business.
Mr. Lawrence: I'd like to pick up on that point where you talked about getting an MBA, when you began to understand the importance of management. What was it like as you were transitioning from a doer, when you were describing, you know, providing services to animals as a veterinarian, and to becoming a manager? Could you take us through that?
Dr. DeHaven: I think before that, Paul, I even realized that while the private veterinary practitioner certainly has some strong and influential impact on families and individual animals, by working with a government agency, we actually have tremendous impacts on population of animals. And so that's where I wanted to take my career was in veterinary medicine, but looking at a broader picture, recognizing that animal agriculture has tremendous implications for our economy and for the health and well-being of a large number of animals as well as the basis for employment of many people in this country. So I recognized the potential there; had also had a taste as a middle management of managing people and managing programs and enjoyed that as well.
Mr. Lawrence: Well, tell us about some of the differences in terms of your training as a veterinarian and then what you began doing as a manager. One of the things I'm drawn to is sort of the size of the groups of people you dealt with. I imagine, from having animals, that a veterinarian experiences one-on-one, and generally, the customers don't complain very much, I imagine, and now you're with much broader teams of people that you have to influence. Tell us about some of the differences in the training.
Dr. DeHaven: You know, ultimately, Paul, it comes down to dealing with people one-on-one and having interpersonal skills, whether you're dealing with that pet owner or a herd owner whose herd of cattle has just been recently diagnosed with brucellosis. From there, you take it to my current position, where typically, I'm working one-on-one with individuals who represent larger, broader constituencies. At the end of the day, it's interpersonal skills and working one-on-one with people. It's just the stakes on different -- whether we're talking about an individual animal or an individual herd of animals versus populations of animals. At the end of the day, it's a matter of employing good common sense and having the interpersonal skills to explain your situation and your position.
Mr. Lawrence: And how about the speed of decisions and the things you can make an impact on? I imagine it must have been very rewarding to you to work one-on-one in a small setting and solve a problem with an animal, and see that work its way out, and now to think about solving something in a population seems much hard and would take more time.
Dr. DeHaven: I think that for the most part is very true. When you're dealing with an individual animal, oftentimes, it's life-and-death situations and decisions need to be made very quickly. On the other hand, when you're dealing with populations and diseases and disease programs that have broad implications for a large population of people and a larger population of animals, typically that decision-making process is much slower, requires a transparent and open process that allows the public and all stakeholders to have an input on that decision. That's how government does work and should work, and we certainly emphasize having an open and transparent process.
Not everyone is cut out for that kind of work. Bureaucracies are intended to be somewhat inefficient, so that they provide that opportunity for everyone to have input. It's something that you develop a skill and ability to work within our system, which, again, by some accounts is intended to be somewhat inefficient in that it does provide for broad constituencies to have input.
Mr. Lawrence: That's interesting. As I think about you getting an MBA and your point about, you know, making government act more like a business, and you talked about the need for inefficiencies, are there any other places that you've noticed where it almost shouldn't run like a business?
Dr. DeHaven: Well, we don't have a bottom line, per se, to worry about in government in terms of having to generate revenue. Rather, making the best use of taxpayers' dollars that are appropriated by Congress or otherwise made available to us. But whether you generate a revenue or have an appropriation, it's getting the most bang for your buck, making sure that how you use that money is used efficiently and effectively. In our case, it's for the public in general as opposed to private business, where you have that customer that you're trying to give them the most benefit for their dollar spent.
Mr. Lawrence: That's an interesting point, especially about the need for openness and transparency.
We're all aware of mad cow disease. How are we tracking and testing for this disease? We'll ask Dr. Ron DeHaven of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to tell us about this when The Business of Government Hour returns.
Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, and this morning's conversation is with Dr. Ron DeHaven, administrator of the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
And joining us in our conversation is Mike Wasson.
Well, Dr. DeHaven, let's talk about mad cow disease. And with the scare of the disease entering in the United States, how is APHIS able to track and test cattle for the disease?
Dr. DeHaven: Well, we have actually been testing cattle for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, since 1990, increasing every year the number of animals that we test. In 2002/2003, we tested some 20,000 animals. And these are animals for what we consider to be the high-risk or target population, meaning that if we do have the disease, these would be the animals that would be most likely to test positive, some 30 times more likely than the average adult cow in our population.
Because of the recent cases in North America, both of them native born in Canada, but one found in the U.S., we have entered into an enhanced surveillance program beginning June 1st of this year. Since June 1st, we have tested somewhere in the neighborhood of 98,000 animals in this high-risk or target population. And of course, all of them thus far have been negative.
Our goal is, during a 12-month period, we want to test a statistically significant number that would, if we have the disease in the U.S., even at a prevalence as low as 1 animal out of 10 million that's positive, that we would find the disease. So our goal is, during this 12-month period, to test somewhere in excess of 250,000 animals, and then can say with some degree of statistical significance whether or not we have the disease, and, if so, at what prevalence.
Mr. Lawrence: Take our listeners through the process of testing. You describe statistics, so I have a picture in my mind of sampling, much like we would anything else, and then running the tests. And so I'm curious, is that right? And just what does the test entail?
Dr. DeHaven: That is correct, Paul. We, unfortunately, don't have any live animal tests available to us at this point in time. There's no blood test. In fact, the test involves getting a piece of tissue from a very specific section of the brain, in the brain stem. So we're collecting these samples from animals that have died on the farm, have gone to slaughter, or otherwise would be animals that have died or are destined to be slaughtered.
We're picking these samples up off of animals that die on the farm. Typically, they're sent to a rendering plant, and we collect the tissues at rendering. Some animals that become nonambulatory at slaughter, they go down, if you will, and are not allowed into the human food chain, we test those animals as well, but also animals that are going to public health laboratories and state diagnostic veterinary laboratories, animals that are showing some central nervous system disorder.
So after the animal dies or is otherwise selected for testing and is euthanized, this portion of the brain, a small piece of tissue, is taken from that section of the brain and then it's subjected to one of half a dozen different tests that we've approved for this purpose. These are rapid screening tests.
So the samples are collected at slaughter plants, rendering plants, diagnostic laboratories, and then that sample is shipped to one of seven laboratories around the country where this testing is done. If any of the animals or tests come up anything other than negative on one of those screening tests, then it goes to our national reference laboratory, that's our National Veterinary Services laboratories in Ames, Iowa, for confirmatory testing.
Mr. Lawrence: Are there steps to implement measures and risk assessments for better effectiveness of tracking disease? As we were preparing, I was reading about the animal registry program.
Dr. DeHaven: The animal registry, I assume, Paul, you're talking about our National Animal Identification System, which is the system that we are currently developing that would provide for some kind of electronic identification on every animal, livestock species of animals, in the country. It's almost ironic in that because of the recent finding of the BSE case in the state of Washington, we're on an accelerated path to implement this national animal identification. And ironic in that BSE is a non-contagious disease, so it's one that we have the luxury of a matter of days or even weeks to trace animals.
On the other hand, if we were to have a highly contagious disease enter the United States, such as foot-and-mouth disease, we would need to be able to track animals in a matter of hours in order to be able to contain and, hopefully, eventually eradicate that kind of disease that might be introduced into the United States. So while certainly animal identification on every animal in the country would be useful for a number of domestic disease programs that we have ongoing, certainly in terms of our BSE testing program, it would be critical to have that kind of system in place were we to have the introduction of a highly contagious foreign animal disease.
he system that we're implementing would then involve electronic identification on the animal, and there's a number of different technologies that can be used, such as radio frequency, ID microchips. But the idea would be that in a maximum of 48 hours, we could trace animals that were infected or had been exposed to infected animals.
Mr. Wasson: Well, Dr. DeHaven, recently APHIS partnered up with the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency on developing a single portal on agricultural biotechnology regulations, which is usbiotechreg.nbii.gov. Can you tell us how this came about and what this site offers?
Dr. DeHaven: Well, the three agencies that are involved in regulating agricultural biotechnology APHIS, Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, and EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency all have very distinct and different roles. But the public really wants one site where they can go to to answer all of their questions, regardless of which agency might have specific regulatory authority. So we worked with our colleagues at FDA and EPA as well as the White House's Office of Science Technology Policy to develop this website. As with all of our regulatory programs, our goal is to be open and very transparent in the process so that we can have a coordinated and risk-based approach.
I think biotechnology represents some unique challenges, in that we walk a very thin tightrope in terms of ensuring that we have adequate regulations to ensure protection of the public and the environment, but, at the same time, not over-regulating to the extent that we unduly restrict growth in an industry that has so much to offer to society.
Mr. Wasson: Well, earlier this year, USDA and APHIS will prepare an evaluation of its biotechnology regulations and several possible regulation changes, including the development of a multi-tiered risk-based permitting system and the enhancements of the deregulation process to provide flexibility for long-term monitoring. How is this process coming along, and what impacts does this have on the stakeholders?
Dr. DeHaven: Mike, you're right. In January of this year, we published a notice of intent in the Federal Register and said in this notice that we plan to prepare an environmental impact statement, or EIS, to consider possible changes to our biotechnology regulations. Through the EIS and a change in regulations, it would provide for a multi-tiered system that would provide some flexibility in the commercialization process for biotechnology products, genetically engineered products, and provide for new policies in field testing, for example, for pharmaceutical plants, plants that are genetically engineered to produce pharmaceutical compounds or other industrial compounds, as well as providing a mechanism for dealing with adventitious presence. That would be the presence of genetically modified organisms in organisms that are thought to be or expected to be non-genetically modified.
Before even starting this process, however, we met with stakeholders and got their input and, through this notice of an intent to prepare an environmental impact statement, received over 3,000 public comments. We've reviewed and considered those comments, and we are currently in the process of writing this environmental impact statement, the impact that new regulations might have. The public will once again have an opportunity to comment on this EIS. And then ultimately, we would be publishing a proposed rule, once again for public comment. So again, emphasizing our open and transparent process in developing any new regulations.
Mr. Wasson: In the wake of terrorist attacks against the U.S., bioterrorism has been of a great concern. For instance, the Bush Administration passed the Agricultural Bioterrorism Protection Act of 2002 and the Homeland Security Act of 2002. What is APHIS's part against bioterrorism?
Dr. DeHaven: It's been part of our responsibility in APHIS to respond to the introduction of foreign animal, plants and plant diseases, and pests as well as animal diseases. So we have considered ourselves for several decades to be first responders when there is an accidental introduction of a plant disease or a pest or an animal disease.
What has changed obviously with the recent times, most notably since 9/11, is the recognition or realization that we not only are vulnerable to an accidental introduction of pest or disease, we've vulnerable to an intentional introduction, an introduction that could have far-reaching implications for the economy of the United States. So we have renewed and emphasized our role not just in dealing with domestic disease programs, but in terms of response to the introduction of a foreign animal disease or a plant pest and disease, recognizing that that could be an intentional introduction.
We have worked closely with FEMA to develop what's called an emergency support function for agriculture, ESF-11. APHIS has the lead in that, meaning that just like FEMA has a responsibility to respond to natural disasters like earthquakes or hurricanes, the FEMA function would also apply to an agricultural emergency such as an unexpected or intentionally introduced foreign animal disease or a plant disease. So through this emergency support function and working with FEMA, APHIS would have the lead in responding to an agricultural emergency, but through FEMA would have all of the resources of the federal government at our disposal to deal with that kind of situation.
APHIS is also the lead agency for the agricultural component of the Bioterrorism Protection Act of 2002, where we have worked very closely with CDC in coming up with a program to ensure that university laboratories and private laboratories that are dealing with agents that could have a bioterrorist use, that there are proper controls and inventory of those kinds of agents. We refer to them as select agents.
We actually have a liaison person with APHIS who works at CDC, who works with them on issues that would affect both animals and plants, zoonotic disease, if you will, as well as any bioterrorist agent that would have not just human health, but also animal health implications.
Mr. Lawrence: How is e-government being used to streamline processes at APHIS? We'll ask Dr. Ron DeHaven, its administrator, to tell us about this when The Business of Government Hour returns.
Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, and this morning's conversation is with Dr. Ron DeHaven, administrator of the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
And joining us in our conversation is Mike Wasson.
Well, Dr. DeHaven, the scope of APHIS's protection has expanded beyond pest and disease management. APHIS has assumed greater roles in the global agricultural arena. What management challenges has this presented for the leadership of APHIS?
Dr. DeHaven: Paul, thank you for the question. And we're realizing more since 9/11 than ever before that our first line of defense, speaking from an agricultural perspective, is not at our ports and borders, but rather overseas. We don't want to wait until potentially harmful diseases, agricultural diseases, or pests are at our borders to exclude them, but rather have people offshore who realize and are our eyes and ears in terms of what threats are out there, and keeping those kinds of things from ever entering our ports and borders. That's our first line of defense, is offshore.
But APHIS is always walking a tightrope in terms of safeguarding American agriculture, but also facilitating trade. Agricultural trade is critical to the economy of our country. So our role is to ensure that those products that we import from abroad as well as our agricultural exports are safe and don't represent any risk to our trading partners. As we enter into more and more trade agreements with our trading partners where historically trade has been restricted by quotas and tariffs, now what's becoming a limiting factor is what we call the sanitary/phytosanitary issues, those issues that represent potential health and pest risks.
And so APHIS is becoming front and center in terms of -- it's those technical issues, the issues that are involved in safeguarding American agriculture, are the same ones that are limiting trade. So there's increasingly more and more emphasis and pressure on APHIS to resolve those technical barriers so that trade can continue unrestricted, but doing so in such a way that we don't jeopardize the health and safety of agriculture in the United States.
Mr. Wasson: Well, Dr. DeHaven, in the last segment, we have learned that APHIS has worked with many different agencies to develop informational websites and protecting U.S. agriculture. Are there any lessons learned and advice you would give on working and managing interagency?
Dr. DeHaven: I think there's one overriding thing, and that is that the administration, our Congress, and, probably more importantly, the public expect there to be interagency cooperation. They're not really concerned with whether there are two or three or four agencies that are involved in some area of oversight. They want to make sure that government agencies that have a role are working together and that there's a coordinated approach.
I was talking a minute ago about trade issues. And so APHIS has a critical role in facilitating trade, to the extent that there are technical issues, to make sure that we don't unintentionally export or import disease or pests. But to do that, we work very closely with the Foreign Agricultural Service, an agency within USDA, in establishing those trade policies and working with our trading partners around the world.
I think the BSE, or mad cow, situation is an excellent example of the need for interagency coordination. APHIS has a role in terms of surveillance of our live animal population. Food Safety Inspection Service, another agency within USDA, has a responsibility to ensure that the food produced from those animals is safe and wholesome. And our colleagues in FDA have some responsibility as relates to animal feed as well as cosmetics and other products that would be made from those animal products. The public, the department, indeed the Congress expect us to work very closely together in dealing with those issues that cross agency boundaries.
Mr. Wasson: Well, early in 2001, APHIS launched an e-gov initiative that streamlined its permit process and application online. What are some of the challenges with this launch?
Dr. DeHaven: In the context, Mike, of ensuring that we are user-friendly to our public, we want to provide the option for that public to request our services either through the traditional paper methods or electronically. For example, both our plant protection quarantine and veterinary services units have a permit process where one can apply for a permit that would allow for the movement of otherwise restricted materials into or out of the United States. Our biotechnology regulatory services unit also receives requests for permits for permitting the use or testing, field testing, of potential biotechnology products.
The challenge for us was to develop one coordinated system that met the needs of all of these different purposes and do so in a way that is user-friendly and not create a three separate system. So we have that traditional bureaucratic issue of getting the funding, getting approval for the system that we're developing, selecting a contractor, and then working closely with that contractor. But all of those things are coming together, and we would hope to pilot a project for this permitting system early next year.
Mr. Wasson: Are there any other e-gov initiatives on the way within APHIS?
Dr. DeHaven: Actually, there are several that we have underway, and our intent is to provide an electronic mechanism of any interaction that we would have with our public. Another example is that we license and register facilities under the Animal Welfare Act. This is primarily facilities that are involved in research or exhibition or the commercial sale of animals, and those types of facilities need to be either licensed or registered with us under the Animal Welfare Act. So rather than, here again, submitting a paper application for that kind of license or registration, we're developing a system to do that all electronically.
Mr. Lawrence: This naturally leads into a discussion of the President's Management Agenda. And could you tell us about APHIS's plans to action to implement the agenda? For example, one area of interest is the integration of performance and budget information.
Dr. DeHaven: Our mission goals in APHIS, Paul, are safeguarding American agriculture and facilitating trade. And as I've alluded to, those two goals can be a little bit of a conundrum in terms of competing interests; in terms of safeguarding agriculture, but at the same time facilitating trade and, in doing so, potentially running the risk of accidental introduction of pest or disease. So having said that, our pest and disease programs very readily lend themselves to a cost-benefit analysis. What's the program going to cost? What's the potential export or market that might be out there, or what is the value of that commodity to our own economy? And then doing a cost-benefit. Is the cost of that program going to yield potential benefits that will exceed those costs?
Here again, we also know that by instituting various plant and animal disease programs, we can improve our export markets. We can improve the exportability, if you will, of certain markets. And so is that potential market from a cost-benefit analysis greater than what the cost would be of implementing some of our programs? APHIS has actually scored very high within the Department on the OMB process to review program assessment, if you will, where we have scored high in terms of the value of our programs versus the return on that investment.
Mr. Wasson: How is APHIS making the adjustments on the move of its port-of-entry inspectors to the Department of Homeland Security?
Dr. DeHaven: We've gone through a very difficult transition. It was in March of last year that we transferred somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,600 agricultural quarantine inspectors to the new Department of Homeland Security. These 2,600 inspectors are the people at our ports and borders whose job it is to ensure that we don't inadvertently allow into the country prohibited products that might also harbor plant diseases or animal diseases. So it's been somewhat of a difficult transition for us to lose those inspectors while at the same time ensuring that they continue to have a very active role in performing that agricultural mission at our ports and borders.
We found newfound friends with our colleagues in the Customs and Border Protection, one of the major units within the Department of Homeland Security. And we think that through the creation of this new department and overseeing all of the inspection activities at the ports and borders, not just agricultural, but Customs inspections and immigration inspections, that there is ample opportunity for improvement, and at the end of the day, having a far better system. Our role is to continue to provide the policy and training for those inspectors at the ports and border, making sure that the agricultural mission remains very high on their priority list. And in order to do that, we've had a couple of initiatives underway.
We're working with our colleagues at DHS to have a quality assurance program to ensure that that inspection is happening as it should, but also that we've got good communication. Current issues, is there a new outbreak or a new situation that would cause us to send an alert to the ports and borders to be on the lookout for a particular commodity or a disease that might be presenting itself? Changes in policy -- and we continue to, again, provide the training for the agricultural inspectors, including the new agricultural specialist within the Department of Homeland Security. So we're developing a newfound friendship and relationship with our colleagues at DHS. And, again, I think that at the end of the day, there's a potential to have a much more effective system.
Mr. Lawrence: That's interesting, especially all the technology described that underpin the programs.
With all the technology being used today, how are skilled IT professionals being recruited and retained? We'll ask Dr. Ron DeHaven of APHIS to tell us about this when The Business of Government Hour returns.
Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, and this morning's conversation is with Dr. Ron DeHaven, administrator of the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
And joining us in our conversation is Mike Wasson.
Mr. Wasson: Well, good morning. Dr. DeHaven, in the future what changes of shifts do you see in APHIS's role in protecting U.S. agriculture?
Dr. DeHaven: Mike, I think we're already seeing some of those shifts. We're seeing more new and emerging diseases in the last few years than we've ever seen before, and I think that's reflected in the apportionment of monies that we've received to respond to some of those new emergencies and emerging pests and diseases. During the eight-year period from 1993 to 2000, we spent some $475 million in responding to those kinds of plant and animal emergencies. In the last four years, that number has soared to $1.1 billion. So in half the time, we've spent twice the amount of money responding to some of the new and emerging plant and animal pests and diseases.
We've touched base already on the fact that as we enter into more trade agreements with our trading partners around the world, some of the technical issues to safeguard American agriculture are becoming those issues that are limiting trade, and so increasing pressure on APHIS to resolve those technical issues in a way that applies appropriate safeguards, but doesn't unduly restrict trade.
And then as we mentioned before, with the events of 9/11, the anthrax situation here in Washington, D.C., with the recognition with the foot-and-mouth disease in Europe that we, too, are vulnerable, we have an increasingly important homeland security role within USDA in general and APHIS in particular. I think we're realizing as an agency that emergencies are part of our norm. As we go about our day-to-day business, that's going to include responding to whatever the current emergency is, either on the plant or animal side or, heaven forbid, both of them.
Mr. Wasson: How does APHIS plan on integrating and protecting its science and technology infrastructure?
Dr. DeHaven: Mike, I think the credibility of our whole agency is that we are a science-based organization. We need to stay science-based and keep that as part of our roots. We have expanded, in fact, that science base in our agency, and I'll give a couple of examples.
Within our plant protection quarantine unit, we've created a Center for Plant Health Science and Technology. So as we're dealing with the domestic disease programs and coming up with new science-based ways of dealing with them, or have a trade issue that requires a science-based resolution, it's those scientists at CPHST, Center for Plant Health Science and Technology, that are responsible for coming up with those kinds of science-based resolutions. And on the animal side, a similar organization is called the Center for Epidemiology and Animal Health.
Clearly, when it comes to regulating biotechnology, we have to be science-based there. It's an evolving industry; the potential benefits are huge. We have to understand the science and ensure that our regulations are science-based.
Our wildlife services unit has gone from an organization that managed damage control on livestock to one that is really a wildlife disease management organization, employing a number of wildlife biologists to ensure that where there is interaction between wildlife and domestic livestock, we're appropriately managing the disease concerns there. So we are science-based, and our future credibility is dependent upon ensuring that we're employing the best science in our programs and activities.
Mr. Lawrence: Throughout our conversation this morning, you've talked an awful lot about very complicated programs: technological, statistical, and scientific. So let me ask you just about the employees who support you. Let's start with technology. How is the agency recruiting and retaining skilled IT workers?
Dr. DeHaven: Indeed. With all the program activities I've talked about, Paul, we couldn't carry out all those activities if we didn't have an excellent support staff, and we do, and that runs the gamut from our IT specialists to our financial managers. On the IT side, especially in the last couple of years, actually recruitment of good quality IT specialists has not been an issue for us. Typically when we put out an advertisement for a vacancy, we get a good number of applicants. And so I'm proud of the caliber and expertise of our IT specialists within the agency.
Having said that, I think that there is a couple of things that we can do, or several things that we can do if that becomes an issue in terms of providing financial incentives to attract some of those IT specialists. But I think even more fundamental than that is within APHIS, we have an organizational culture that values our employees and places high value on family values. So I think we're a family-friendly, employee-friendly organization, but we can also provide those kinds of financial incentives if need be.
Mr. Wasson: How is APHIS supporting agriculture trade between the U.S. and its trading partners?
Dr. DeHaven: Within our international services unit, we have a separate team we call the trade support team, which is really the interface between APHIS, our Foreign Agricultural Service, and the U.S. Trade Representative's Office, where we are collectively working on agricultural trade issues. I think especially in the last decade, trade has become increasingly important as we enter into all of these trade agreements. And the technical barriers to trade that APHIS is responsible for are becoming increasingly important. So we have this team of individuals with geographical responsibility around the world that deal specifically with those issues from a technical standpoint, but also serve as our liaison between other parts of government that are dealing with agricultural trade issues.
But we're also expanding our presence overseas. We have APHIS employees in 29 countries that are working on not just facilitating trade, but being our eyes and ears in terms of the agricultural threats that are out there in terms of what potential threat might be coming to us from different parts of the world because of the animal and plant disease situations around the world. So I think we have an increasing role, and we certainly have had over the past decade an increasing role in trade, and I don't see that doing anything in the future except expanding.
Mr. Lawrence: Dr. DeHaven, if I've done my math right, you've dedicated your career to public service, almost 30 years if I remember the dates from our first segment. So I'd like to ask you to be reflective and talk to a person who's maybe interested in a career or just starting out in public service. What advice would you give to them?
Dr. DeHaven: I think one of the most frustrating experiences of my 30-year career in government was getting that first job. There was no good process to tap into the system, get your questions answered, and effectively compete. So while I think we've made some tremendous inroads and are much more user-friendly today than we were in the past in the perspective, and there's ample opportunity to get information from the Internet, I would encourage folks to be patient and persistent.
I would also say, at the end of the day, certainly for me it's been worth it. Certainly don't come to work for government if you just want to draw a paycheck and sit back and look forward to a retirement. Plan on working, working hard, but also plan on the rewards being substantial. I think the impact, for example, that APHIS has on American agriculture is tremendous. And so while the work is hard, the hours can be long, the rewards are equally as large.
I would also encourage those that are interested in coming to work for a particular agency learn what you can about the agency before you go for a job interview. I can't tell you the number of people that I've interviewed for prospective jobs that know next to nothing about the agency. And indeed if you are truly interested in working for that agency, it just makes common sense that you would have done some background and know what that agency does and what kind of position that you would be interested in.
Mr. Lawrence: Well, I'm afraid we're out of time. That'll have to be our last question. Dr. DeHaven, Mike and I want to thank you for squeezing us in your very busy schedule this morning.
Dr. DeHaven: Well, thank you, Paul, it's been my pleasure, and Mike as well. I appreciate the questions and the opportunity to explain to the public the wide variety and important functions that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service plays. We've got a great group of dedicated employees who work hard day-in and day-out.
And for those of you that are interested in knowing more about our programs, I would encourage you to visit our website. That website is www.aphis.usda.gov. And we've got a comprehensive website that will explain to you more about what we do in our various programs as well as provide mechanisms for you to get answers to your questions if you need services from our agency.
Again, Paul and Mike, thank you very much for having me on your program.
Mr. Wasson: Thank you.
Mr. Lawrence: Thank you, Dr. DeHaven.
This has been The Business of Government Hour, featuring a conversation with Dr. Ron DeHaven, administrator of the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Be sure and visit us on the web at businessofgovernment.org. There you can learn more about our programs and research and get a transcript of today's fascinating conversation. Once again, that's businessofgovernment.org.
This is Paul Lawrence. Thank you for listening.
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
Mr. Lawrence: Good morning and welcome to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, partner in charge of The IBM Center for The Business of Government. We created the center in 1998 to encourage discussion and research into new approaches to improving government effectiveness. You can find out more about the center by visiting us on the web at businessofgovernment.org.
The Business of Government Hour features a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business. Our special guest this morning is Lieutenant General Steven Boutelle, Chief Information Officer and G-6 of the Department of the Army. Good morning, sir.
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: Good morning, Paul, great to see you this morning and I appreciate the opportunity to talk about what we're doing in our service.
Mr. Lawrence: Great. And also joining us in our conversation from IBM is Chuck Prow. Good morning, Chuck.
Mr. Prow: Good morning, Paul.
Mr. Lawrence: Well, General, perhaps you could begin by describing the mission of the Department of Army's chief information office, G-6?
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: That's a great question. The CIO and G-6 of the Army really has multiple roles. As the CIO we hold that traditional role, which is providing IT services across the force. Now, when we say "across the force" for the Army that's significantly different in some corporate worlds, that is, global requirements for IT wherever you are in the world, any time, any place. And generally and quite often in today's environment that is in a place where there is no infrastructure.
Under the G-6 role we actually provide the soldiers, the young men and women who operate many of those services, be it in Afghanistan or Djibouti, Horn of Africa, South America, or here in the continental United States.
Mr. Lawrence: Tell us about the people on your team, especially the skills.
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: The skill set is a varied skill set but they do have a common core and that is somewhere they're involved in the IT industry. We do have those people that are in the resourcing business but really in the IT industry and that is all the way from software and computers up to transmission systems via satellite, tropospheric scatter, microwave, or hand-held tactical radios.
Mr. Lawrence: And how about the size of what you're taking place in terms of a budget, don't want any secrets but it's always interesting to put what's going on in the service in the context of other Fortune 500 companies?
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: Our IT budget is about $6 billion and that runs over our palm so it's a significant budget in the size of business.
Mr. Lawrence: And then you were describing how combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and the like are involved. How do they affect the budget?
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: We have the normal budgets that we have in peace time although our budget doesn't significant change although it's increased with the current supplementals in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. So those are usually supplementals on top of our normal budget where we buy and push services be they leased services of satellite services or information services or actually buying systems, commercial systems, to put on the ground in Pakistan or Afghanistan or Iraq or other places.
Mr. Lawrence: A while back we interviewed Kevin Carroll, the program executive for Enterprise Information Systems for the Army and he talked to us about how his organization was now falling under the CIO/G-6. Could you talk to us about the reorganization?
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: Sure. The Army has, like many of the services, program executive officers. Those are the acquirers. They award the contracts for research and development and eventual production, whatever the system is, be it an airplane or a helicopter or in Kevin Carroll's place it's enterprise services. Most of the work that Kevin Carroll does in PEO EIS, and he would tell you 50 to 60 percent of the work is resourced or funded by my organization, those are large-end satellite systems in Baghdad or enterprise systems around the world.
Mr. Lawrence: So by putting it under the CIO does that make things more common?
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: Makes it much more common. There are about 12 program executive officers in the Army, one for aviation to buy helicopters, one for ground combat systems that buys tanks, another one for missiles, and it was a natural fit for Kevin Carroll and EIS to roll underneath the CIO/G-6. The other 11 PEOs currently work under Lieutenant General Joe Yakovac and he's responsible for providing those services.
Mr. Prow: Good morning, General. As CIO and G-6 for the Army what are your chief roles and responsibilities?
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: Well, several chief roles and responsibilities separated. As the CIO I do provide the enterprise services and the direction and the guidance and that is to ensure that the user at whatever level, be it the tactical level, the young soldier in the field, or back in the United States, whether he's operating at a depot or an office or behind a desk, has the appropriate IT services. That means bandwidth to the desktop or to the soldier moving across the battlefield or to the attack helicopter, provide all of those services. Some of those are leased services, some of those are products, and some of those are buying at an enterprise level.
Mr. Prow: Can you share with us a few of the highlights prior to you becoming CIO and G 6 of the Army?
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: It's a long road to be the CIO/G-6 and I will tell you if you look at my predecessors each one of them has had a different path. My immediate predecessor was Lt. Gen. Pete Cuviello. He came up pretty much more of a traditional communications role. But in my case I started out as an inductee back in 1969 and elected to join the Army and started out in nuclear weapons electronic repair.
At one point in time I went to artillery officer candidate school, probably because I had reasonable math scores, and in the wind-down of Vietnam I also had a background in electronics and electrical engineering and was shifted over into communications and electronics, spent quite a few years in that. Most of us spent a lot of years initially in combat divisions and I was in the 3rd Infantry Division, the 8th Infantry Division, and 5th Corps, 7th Corps in the United States, in Korea, and, of course, various places around the world.
At a certain point I went into the acquisition business and that is looking at buying products from the commercial world. And when you get into that business you make a shift. You're no longer primarily working communications. You're more working general electronics, software, computers.
And probably the defining event was about 19 -- probably about '87 when the PCs first started to hit the market and I worked in an organization where they were coming in. And I came home one day and I said I think these new things called personal computers are going to go somewhere and spent many nights and evenings doing some very, very basic programming and rebuilding and building computers and have been at it ever since.
Mr. Lawrence: When you look back at those experiences are there any one you talk about when you talk about your career that prepare you for where you are today perhaps from going from a doer to managing a doer or understanding the role that you would play as a higher ranking officer?
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: Well, I think that's a great question and one of the most difficult things we do, as our chief says, is build a bench and that is identify those people who need to take your job should you depart that job or who your replacement's going to be. And I don't think we do that all well or as well as we could both in industry and in government. And one of the things we do as senior officers is we look out across the landscape of those people who work for us or who are around us and try to identify those young people who are starting to broaden their horizons and no longer looking down at just doing the function that they're trained to do but start looking at where the Army is going, where the nation is going, where the world is going, looking at the geopolitical environment and how to start to apply the technologies to where we need to go, not where we are today but where do you need to go in the future. And so identifying those people is one of the things we as leaders need to do and then mentor those people.
We seldom want to send our superstars off to school for a year or six months. We want to keep them close to us. And we need to make those hard calls and send those people out and make sure they get the right experience, they get the right schools, they get the right exposure so we can bring them up to take our job and hopefully do a better job of it than we've done.
Mr. Lawrence: I have a pretty good idea from your description of what drew you to public service but what's kept you in? I imagine from time to time you might have thought about going into the private sector. What's kept you?
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: I think a combination of two things. You go along for a certain period of time and you do it strictly because you really enjoy the feeling of accomplishment. And in my business on a day to day basis and some days are better than others but you generally feel that you've accomplished something and you're pushing this technology the right direction. And I think probably over the last few years it's probably been a knowledge that since I have been in this business for a long time, I've been a program executive officer, I've been a project manager, I've built systems, that I thought that I had a bench of knowledge where I could apply those or help apply those to the young soldiers in the field and in the current war and what I believe will be the future wars on terrorism.
Mr. Lawrence: Tell us about some of your personal style in managing and leading, for example, communication. A lot of people talk to us on this show about the importance of getting your message out and communicating to your team but yet you have a big team and it's spread all over the world. How do you do that?
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: One of the things we do and one of the things I've tried to do is right up front have a very narrow set of objectives that everyone can understand, six or seven things that you want to accomplish in the period of time you're going to be there, two or three years or whatever it may be, and don't change or adjust those unless absolutely necessary. And then you will find that if you put that out to the senior leaders that you'll find that everywhere around the world globally they all understand what you're trying to do and where you're trying to go and be consistent. You need to know where the boss is trying to go. You may not agree with him but you need to know where he's trying to go.
And the second thing is visit them as often as possible. I don't believe we need to micromanage these professionals. They know how to do good work and make things happen. Draw the white lines in the road and give them the objective and the direction, surround yourself with some really good managers and senior people, and I have a superstar staff, and periodically check on them and praise them when they do a good job and give them guidance if they don't. But I am extremely pleased where the Army people are going around the world.
Mr. Lawrence: How do you think about the speed of decision-making in government? Is it fast enough? Is it slow enough? I know we've talked to a lot of people who've come from the private sector who joined government and are somewhat surprised at the speed by which decisions are made. How do you think about that?
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: I think we're in a hybrid right now. In peace time we build very strong armed forces but we do it very methodically and we do it within the system. The exponential growth in the IT world, specifically in IP, XML, web services, that's happening around us does not lend itself to making decisions and putting those systems in the field as quickly as we want. Every circuit board I buy for a system in six months is outdated and there's a new one to replace it. Our process does not support that.
Having said that, in the current war and with the nation in the state it's in today and still in national emergency after 9/11 we are able to do things very, very quickly based upon supplementals and a wartime environment and bring systems in very quickly, replace old systems. So I would suggest today we can make a decision today and make things happen in a matter of sometimes hours or days. That is not true in a peace time environment and that's okay. In a peace time environment you want that structure, you want to build that underpinning and that base to have a stable Army or a stable Navy or Air Force. But right now we can make decisions very, very quickly and execute very quickly with industry.
Mr. Lawrence: That's an interesting point about the speed. What does the term "network-centric operations" mean and why are we hearing so much about it these days? We'll ask General Steven Boutelle of the US Army to explain this to us when The Business of Government Hour continues.
Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence and this morning's conversation is with Lieutenant General Steven Boutelle, chief information officer and G-6, Department of the Army, and joining us in our conversation is Chuck Prow.
Mr. Prow: General Boutelle, can you tell us about some of the IT lessons learned from Iraq and Afghanistan and how those lessons are affecting Army technology?
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: I'd be glad to, Chuck, and, as you can imagine, Afghanistan and Iraq have many lessons that we've learned. Probably the one lesson I've learned, and I just returned from the theater, is where there's a vacuum today or something doesn't exist today with the pervasiveness of the tools that we all use somebody's going to fill it. And what I mean, if I don't take and provide a particular IT tool, a radio, a computer, a wireless network, to a certain organization within, say, Afghanistan in a very short period of time to meet their needs with the availability of those things off the commercial network they will buy their own, they will install it themselves. These young men and women are just like the kids here. They know they can buy a router and a switch. They know they can buy a wireless network and a bunch of cards and build their own network. If you don't provide them the right tools quickly and a vacuum appears they will fill that vacuum out of their discretionary funds.
Mr. Prow: Interesting. Has the evolution of technology affected the evolution of war fighting?
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: I would say absolutely. Two things, one is when you make IT pervasive as it is today and information pervasive as it is today you tend to flatten your hierarchy of management much as is happening in the commercial world. Let's face it. Today in the commercial world as well as in the Army if a young soldier or sailor or airman decides to launch an e-mail message to his boss or to his wife back in the United States it goes at the speed of light minus switching time and that information flow is so quick and the ramifications of it flow very quickly. No longer do you have the point where you have someone at the bottom part of the architecture or the hierarchy who has to manually put something on a piece of paper and send it through maybe his boss and his boss's boss and his boss's boss and over a period of time get a decision. It's near instantaneous so you flatten the management hierarchy.
What that's caused us to do in the Army is relook at how many levels we have. The Army basically has four major levels of hierarchy. We have brigades, divisions, corps, and army. We're in the process of removing one of those levels and in that process when you move a level you start parsing out and sharing those management responsibilities. So when we finish this process we will have three levels. We know that. We know we're going to have brigades; we've already announced that. Divisions, corps, and armies, at the end of the day only two of those will continue and you'll parse those functions. And you can do that because of the information technologies.
Mr. Lawrence: How long will it take to resolve which two of the three?
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: I think that'll probably resolve within 12 to 18 months. We've already decided that the lowest level, the brigade, will still survive, but what we've done is we've enhanced that brigade with IT technologies to allow it to be able to operate within other services, in other words take an Army brigade and nest it in a Marine division. We can do that as we're building IT services in. So the brigades the brigade is our basic fighting unit today as we evolve, as we're building today, where in the past it would have been a division but we're going to make those brigades very autonomous and independent and we are able to do that with a lot of command and control communications, satellite systems, IP-based networks.
Mr. Lawrence: We've heard you speak about the importance of reading and understanding the Chief of Staff and the Secretary of the Army's paper, "Serving a Nation at War: A Campaign-Quality Army With Joint and Expeditionary Capabilities." Could you summarize the key messages one should take away from this paper?
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: The key message in that is we need to make a dramatic change in the structure of our Army. The Army is primarily and has been designed for many years to fight on the East German plain-North German plain against the Soviet Pact or in the Korean Peninsula and it's a very structured Army. We knew the battle space, we knew the ground, we knew the cities and the mountains, we knew exactly where we were going, and we knew what we thought we were going to do when we got there. In today's contemporary environment with the war on terrorism and the radical fundamentalist groups that we're going face they are a nonnation state. They don't belong to a nation. They don't wear a uniform. They move back and forth between countries and they move globally. To be able to address that threat appropriately you need to have small mobile organizations that can quickly move around the world and perform whatever mission we assign to them.
So the Chief's and Secretary's paper says look, the brigade will become our combat fighting unit. We're going to call them brigade combat teams. There will be many of them. We're going to increase the number of them. We're going to enable them by satellite-based networks because so many of the places that we have found the al Qaeda and other organizations are in nation states that have failed or Third World nations where there is no infrastructure. So to enable those organizations takes lots of satellite capability, lots of IT capability, a heavy reliance on intelligence, and providing that to those organizations. So I think the Chief and Secretary's paper is you've got to dramatically change this Army and you need to do it now.
Mr. Lawrence: What does it mean to the individual soldier?
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: There's a couple of pieces in there. One piece of the Chief's paper says look, we're going to be a campaign-quality Army and we're going to be joint. The Chief would like us to have home station operation centers and project force out of the United States and in doing that he will stabilize the force. Right now and in the past we've moved people about every three years, sometimes more often. Do we need to do that if we're going to be a force-projection Army?
A young man or woman can come in the Army and really spend three, four, five, six, even up to seven years at the same place, have his family buy a home there, settle into that community and use that environment. And if he gets promoted move him around that post, camp, or station. There's no good reason in today's environment to move him automatically every three years just because the clock ticks off three years. When the Chief says I want your families in the same place let's have them in a home station. Let's have a good quality of life there and spend some resources on making that a very powerful quality of life and project force out of that place when we need to.
Mr. Lawrence: The paper talks about a lot of big change and I'm curious. It doesn't really talk about how long it will take to achieve this point, the change?
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: Good question. The 3rd Infantry Division, which returned from Iraq this spring, which is the division that actually went into Baghdad, will be radically changed by the end of this year. It will not have three maneuver brigades. It will have four maneuver brigades. It will have the new IT system, the new satellite system, the new voice-over IP systems, all the new networking, all the new Red Switch and CIPR and IPR and all those types of things. We have started delivering that last week. Soldiers are already training on it. We will completely outfit that division, turn it around, and have it ready to deploy again after the first of the year. We will do three more divisions in calendar year '05, the 101st Airborne Division, the 10th Infantry Division, and the 4th Infantry Division, all before the end of calendar year '05.
Mr. Prow: General, we often hear of the concept of network-centric operations. Now, what is N-CO and how does it apply to the Army?
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: Network-centric operations which we are trying to achieve I think is an end state, and I'm not sure quite what the end state is, but we have tremendous amounts of information that we generate and that we store. The question is how do you get that information readily to all the decision makers, be that decision maker at the lowest level or somewhere back at a depot on a sustaining base in the continental United States.
Most of us are primarily circuit-based and have been circuit-based for many years; that is, a data stream flows from point A to point B. Network-centric operations presume that you can make that data centrally stored, you may cache it elsewhere, and it's available to everyone. And as we do that we start to get the synergism that has been promised to us for so long. The tools that will make that happen are really the web services, a combination of XML and SOAP and UDDI, lots of the web services protocols that will start to allow us to leverage these terabytes and in some cases petabytes of information we have stored.
Mr. Prow: On that topic can you also describe LandWarNet and how it will impact the business of war fighting within the Army?
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: Yeah, Chuck, LandWarNet is an attempt we've made with the TRADOC commander, General Kevin Byrnes, and Headquarters, Department of the Army, to try and bound and define what these networks are. I mean, most of us grew up that have been around for a few years where we had a separate network at the low end and it really wasn't a network. It was a voice capability at the lowest level. It was a tactical voice capability on tactical radios. And as you moved up in our infrastructure you got into what we call mobile subscriber equipment. Yes, you had a network, primarily circuit-based. It was locked on mountain tops; it was not mobile. And then when you got back in the United States you got into other circuit-based networks that tie together depots, the corporate world, the Army corporate world, and the other services. You've merged these now together with TCIP becoming the de facto standard. And now you've merged the lowest level to the highest level to the sustaining base in the continental United States with a TCIP backbone. It's a router-based network and we've all joined that network.
But as we've merged these into a single network we had to name them. And so what we're saying is LandWarNet for the Army is the network that goes from the lowest soldier all the way back to our sustaining bases and depots be they in Europe, in the Pacific, or back in the United States. It's the network plus the applications that ride on that network.
Mr. Lawrence: As you talked about this discussion of technology I hear a story of change and you talked about how change flattens the Army. And I'm curious. What's happening to in the civilian world what are called middle-level managers, people who were trained for a certainty in the world and now it's all changing? How's their life changing?
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: I think dramatically and to some people it probably is a terrible awakening because that information does flow so quickly. But it's a double-edged sword. On one side it flows very quickly. On the other side if we're not careful we leave out the middle-management level where they are there to make decisions and make recommendations and in some cases it'll flow directly from the bottom of the organization to the top of the organization without much massaging, staffing, and thought process in it. And so the good side is the information flows very quickly. On the other side in some cases you tend to lose the influence and the richness that is added by the staff. So as you trim down and eliminate some of that staff we're trying to be very careful to keep a very strong group of people in there that still add the richness to that raw information and data as it comes forward for decision making.
Mr. Lawrence: That's an interesting point, especially about the staffing. What is knowledge management and how is the Army using it? We'll ask General Steven Boutelle, CIO of the Army, to take us through this when The Business of Government Hour continues.
Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence and this morning's conversation is with Lieutenant General Steven Boutelle, Chief Information Officer and G-6, Department of the Army. Joining us in our conversation is Chuck Prow.
Mr. Prow: General Boutelle, we know that systems interoperability, particularly in the joint arena, is key for you. What are some of the ways that your office seeks to promote coordination within the Army and across the services?
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: Great question, Chuck, and that, as you know, has been a continuing issue and although we do have interoperability issues I think sometimes we don't give ourselves credit for all the things we should.
Interoperability applies at many different levels. One is just at the communications level or radio level. Will one radio talk to another? And so you have to solve that problem first to make sure they both talk to each other be it on the same spectrum, same frequency, and so you solve that one first.
Then you move to the next level and say what do I want to pass between the two systems and you'd have to talk about the application. What application am I going to have on one side versus the application on the other side? Are they designed to talk to each other? Are you trying to make a logistic system talk to an intelligence system? Obviously they probably will not interoperate. So you have to map and architect what those systems are.
And if you assume the applications are designed to talk to each other then you have to take it to the next level and say what messaging am I using. Am I using the same type of messaging across the network? Is one of them operating at a VMF bit-oriented message and the other in a character-oriented?
So then when you line up and get that correct then you say what's in the message. And when you define what's in the message you may both be operating on character-oriented message or bit-oriented message but then you need to get down to the data element level and align the data elements to make sure that you're passing data that you want to pass to the other application.
And once you get the data passing back and forth the next step in interoperability is how do you display it. In other words are you displaying it on a graphic screen? Have you come to an agreement on the symbology? Is it mil standard 2525B that I'm on and you're on FM 101-5? So you've got five or six different areas.
We do pretty good, pretty good, at the radio level, not perfect, of being able to talk to each other or, say, one satellite system to the other. We do pretty good when you get down to some of the other levels. And where we usually run into issues is taking the applications over time and say what is it that we really want to do. What are you really trying to do from one end to the other? And yet we tend to throw it all into one basket and say we're not interoperable and try to solve all of those things when many of those things are already solved and we need to get down at the application level and say what is the thread of information we're trying to pass and what are we trying to do when we get there.
Mr. Prow: We understand that Information Technology Enterprise Solutions is one of the Army's recent efforts to centralize IT programs. How is ITES benefiting the Army?
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: As you probably know, ITES1 is run by a program executive officer, EIS, Enterprise Information Services. Mr. Kevin Carroll runs that program and ITES1 is primarily a services- or support-based contract. I think we've awarded so far probably about $157 million worth of work off that contract but it provides services, everything from wide area network services to LAN services, IT support, programming/database support, services type contract; very powerful, allows anyone in the Army to come to a single place to get those types of services.
Mr. Prow: How will ITES2 be different from the current ITES?
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: We're running out of overhead on ITES1. We've almost awarded all the dollars we're allowed to award against that. ITES2, we will increase the amount of overhead in that or the top end, how much money we can put against that contract, significantly.
Mr. Lawrence: Let me skip subjects here and talk about knowledge management. Could you describe the Army's vision for knowledge management?
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: I'd be glad to, Paul. First of all we all are collecting tremendous amounts of data. You've got tremendous amounts of data and information and documents probably on your computer and on your hard drive today and over time that becomes not only megabytes and gigabytes but pretty soon terabytes and petabytes and, believe it or not, we can talk in petabytes in information we have in storage today and that information is pretty much static unless you have ways to access it and sort it and provide it to the right person at the right time.
That's the process we'll working right now, a combination of two things, all the information, and that information can be in the form of video, imagery, documents, messaging, translations of information that we've got around the world, open sourcing. How do you take all that information and how do you access the piece you want for one thing, to be able to make a decision in a rapid time in order to action something and have some successful event take place? When we get into Army knowledge management it is really taking data and being able to massage that data and facilitate that data to get it to the right person someplace globally to make a decision.
Several ways you can do that. One is you can just do searches on it like you do on Google or Yahoo! or Excite or something else with a search engine. What you really need to be doing right now and what we're beginning to do and what the Department of Defense has directed, which I think is absolutely the correct way to do it, is employ a lot of the XML standards to sort that information for content and intent and as we start to convert that to XML then you will start to really get the power that we're all after in this knowledge-based world.
Mr. Lawrence: Tell us about tracking progress as you move towards those goals.
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: One is to be able to convert tremendous amounts of information into those protocols, into XML and those family of protocols, and that's going to be one part of it. The second piece is just start to apply that to the many, many, many hundreds, if not thousands, of systems that we have across the Army. Look, it's pretty easy to fix one system or mod one system or build one new system. But when you get a large organization like the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines, we have tens of thousands of applications and so we need to parse those applications and decide which we want to attack first.
We do have a requirement now that all new systems coming on board will use an XML back plane as part of that and we broke it out by domains. We have war-fighting domains, we have business domains, we have domain owners, and we are now assigning those domain owners responsibilities to modify those systems to operate within the XML environment. The larger environment is what we call the NCES environment, which is a Network-Centric Enterprise Services environment, which really the DISA organization is administering.
Mr. Lawrence: Let's take it down a level lower to the individual soldier. Could you tell us about Army Knowledge Online and how it affects their lives?
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: AKO or Army Knowledge Online, which is the largest portal in the Department of Defense, has several pieces to it. It has an unclassified portion which we operate, what we call the NIPRNet or the unclassified for day to day operations within the Army. It has a piece of it, the CIPR, which is the secret side, which is primarily used by our intelligence community, our war-fighter community, and our operations people, and then there's another side of it that are the websites open to the public.
For the individual soldier and family we have a tremendous amount of things that are going on. First of all, for any deployed soldier we offer the opportunity for him to provide guest passwords and access and collaboration sites to his family and kids. So a deployed soldier today can go to one of the many Internet cafes we have throughout the region in South America or other places and actually exchange e-mail and messaging and pictures and other things of their family and their kids and different events that take place within the family. That's on the personal side.
On the professional side if you go on Army Knowledge Online like I do every morning and I boot that system it provides me instant messaging to the people I work with around the world but it also provides me role-based things. Today when I boot on it's got a series of stoplights and said your physical is green but you didn't take your flu shot so it's amber or red. Go take your flu shot, you need a dental checkup, those types of things. So it is tied to many databases and systems throughout the nation.
Effective in October we'll really be role-based. Not only will it tell me that I need to take my physical or I haven't taken my flu shot but when you log into the system it'll be role-based. It will not only know about my physical and my flu shot but it will know what my role is in the Army and present information to me that's based upon who I am, what my age is, what my specialty is, what part of the world I work in, what my organization is, and start to provide role-based information for that individual. If he's up for promotion it should come up and tell him, okay, you have an opportunity for promotion here. You need to do these types of things to get ready for it.
Some of those are available today but we're going to pure role-based shortly. That gives us two things. It focuses information on the individual but it also makes sure that he or she does not have access to information that she does not need or is sensitive information that she should not have access to.
Mr. Prow: On the subject of knowledge management can you describe the Army's Battle Command Knowledge System and how this evolving knowledge management system will affect the Army's ability to fight wars?
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: The BCKS or the Battle Command Knowledge System is one of our very, very powerful stories. It's grown out of a couple young soldiers who decided that probably the big Army was not receptive and adaptive enough to do what they wanted to do, and they referred to it when I talked to them. They said we built the website companycommander.com, which was the original website, as if a bunch of company commanders were sitting around on somebody's front porch talking about how they operate every day and what works and what doesn't work as a company commander. And these young soldiers decided that a great thing to do would be put it on a website and they found that there was such a demand for sharing of information from company commanders in Korea and Alaska and Hawaii and South America and Europe it was an overwhelming success, exponential growth.
But they thought that because they did it on their own with their own servers that that was the only way to do it. And we worked with them for many years and we've now rolled that into a bigger program and that bigger program is BCKS. It does reside on Army Knowledge Online. It is now in the dot-mil domain. We're extremely pleased. We not only have the companycommander.com on the mil domain now. We've expanded that to platoon sergeants and battalions so that information is shared.
And when you start sharing that information and hopefully tacit information you have very, very powerful results. And so the young soldier who has an IED problem and a solution in Afghanistan when he was a company commander is now sharing that with a young soldier who's in Fort Riley and about to go to Afghanistan or Iraq. And so we're seeing all the sharing and collaboration of information; very, very powerful, very useful in our business.
Mr. Lawrence: Fascinating, especially the sharing part. Are military IT programs different from IT programs for civilian agencies? We'll ask General Steven Boutelle of the US Army for his perspective when The Business of Government Hour continues.
Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence and today's conversation is with Lieutenant General Steven Boutelle, Chief Information Officer and G-6, Department of the Army. Joining us in our conversation is Chuck Prow.
Mr. Prow: General Boutelle, you are considered a pioneer in the area of tactical communications. Can you explain the importance of tactical communications to our listeners and what innovations you expect to see that will positively affect the Army?
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: Great question, Chuck. The tactical communications world is a little bit different. In previous times prior to 1989 tactical communication was pretty much tethered to infrastructure within Europe, within Germany, where we thought we might have to fight a war with the Warsaw Pact.
Tactical communications today in a fight against a group of terrorists that have no alignment to a particular state or nation requires you to go into many of these fallen states or Third World countries or very poor countries, Afghanistan probably the third poorest country in the world. There is no infrastructure. There's no electricity. There's no potable water. There are no places to buy batteries for your radios. You have to bring it with you. There are no telephone systems, no cell systems, although they are starting to evolve cell systems in the bigger cities like Kabul, but you have to bring it all with you.
So when you bring it all with you and you have no electricity to plug into you get into the tactical world very quickly. And that is I have to be able to talk to someone either across the street, on the next mountaintop, or in the next valley and the way you do that are usually systems that are not readily available in the commercial market. They must be able to withstand the tremendous temperatures and weather environments that we operate in and that drives you to the tactical arena, usually it at the lowest level of FM voice and usually secure FM voice, and you move up for longer distances to what we call tactical UHF satellite.
That whole world of tactical arena is only somewhat applicable to the commercial world and usually pretty much customized to the work we do although we're seeing much more use of things like the 802.11 protocols b and g and some of the other protocols. We're starting to see a little bit of inroads to the commercial protocols. That's primarily the tactical world and it's really a stand-alone, sustaining, power it yourself, carry it on your back, or carry it in a vehicle if you can get a vehicle into a type of type of communications.
Mr. Prow: Information technology has and will continue to play a vital role in current operations around the world. What can industry to improve IT for the benefit of the Army and its evolution into overseas conflicts?
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: A couple things we need to think about. One, at the higher level, and this is really across the entire network, is information assurance piece. Let's face it. We're out there and we are an information-based Army and we are an information-based Department of Defense and federal government and that's a strength but it is also a weakness. And so tremendous amounts of resources and effort are being put into things like firewalls and anti-virus packages and packages that will push the IAVA updates across the battlefield to every computer. That's one piece that we really need industry's help on and it's a continuing thing. We can secure all of our networks today but the enemy has a vote be that a script kiddie or a local hacker or maybe a determined enemy on the 'net. So even though we secure our nets today that enemy will continue to try to attack and have better techniques and better tools in the future so you must continue to improve those information assurance things.
And the other piece is we need to push the envelope. When you're pushing people out in strange places in the world in a mobile and harsh environment the commercial product as it stands probably will not do the job. Much of the mobile computing came early in the armed forces. We were running mobile computers in helicopters and airplanes and tanks significantly before we had it probably in our house or were carrying out PDAs around. So as we continue to push that envelope we find higher demand for more bandwidth, to have higher resolution imagery, to see unmanned aerial vehicle streaming video. Those types of things will continue to push the industry on providing protocols and standards to give us those products in a timely manner.
Mr. Lawrence: Let's take a step back and think about IT projects in general. How would you compare and contrast, say, creating technology solutions in the military versus civilian agencies and the federal government?
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: In the military today, unlike 20 years ago, we don't create a lot of IT solutions. There was a time when the Army held and we still hold many patents but we actually created devices, we created radios, we created things. Now we rely heavily and we leverage the commercial community to do that. So I think you'll find that across the federal government that the Army by law is very much restricted and bounded by some things we do. We fight and win the nation's wars and so we focus primarily outside the continental United States.
Now, the National Guard under Title 32 does have a role within the different states and that's pretty much codified. So we focus outside. The National Guard focuses inside unless we activate and mobilize them and bring them with us. And the Reserve, of course, is part of the active Army in direct support.
So we really focus a little different, each federal agency, be it the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the CIA, really, which enclaves they focus in. The FBI is very centric to the United States. The CIA is outside the United States. The Army and the armed forces focus outside the United States. We have some role in certain occasions within the United States.
Mr. Prow: How do you see the Army's CIO/G-6 evolving in the years ahead?
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: The CIO role, as you know, has become increasingly more active in the last few years. A lot of that is because of the Klinger-Cohen Act. The Klinger-Cohen Act gives each agency very strong roles for the CIO, the chief information officer, to perform and that's codified in law. But I would suggest, and some of my CIO counterparts and brethren may not appreciate it, that at the turn of the century we had a vice president for electricity as we brought electricity into manufacturing plants. And so the CIO today will probably be here for 10, 20, 30 years but as IT becomes the common backbone of everything we do that will be an evolving role. I have no idea what that role will be 20 years from now but it will be significantly different today when we are initially bringing on IT services versus getting into knowledge management and where that goes. It may be more of a knowledge management officer than a CIO.
Mr. Prow: More generally where do you see the Army's movement over the next five to ten years?
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: I think the Army's movement is really networking the force to the lowest level. We can provide the transport network anywhere we want to today by brute force and resourcing. The issue we still have to solve and we have on the books and we're working on it very hard, and I believe it'll be solved in the next three to five years, is networking in the soldier at the lowest level or the special forces operator. That's the hard part. He needs a lot more bandwidth and he needs it in places where there is no infrastructure on this globe. That's the hard part, that's what we're working on, and battery technologies support it. It takes a tremendous amount of battery technology and lots and lots of batteries to support just about anything we do so power technologies to support those things in getting that large bandwidth out to the individual soldier or special operator.
Mr. Lawrence: You've spent the bulk of your career serving our country. What advice would you give to a young person interested in a career in public service?
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: I think the first thing I would do is it's like any other thing you want to do. If you want to get into something be good at what you do. You can take that niche, whatever niche you decide you have an interest in, and become the expert in that niche be it IP services, XML, whatever that may be. It's significantly different.
When I look across our population that we have in the Army, civilian and military and contractor, all three, I find a seam there age 30-35. If you're under 30 or 35 you probably grew up with IT technology, maybe just as a tool around the house. If you're over 30-35, if you've taken an interest in it or it was part of your job, you may become very good at it. If you're not into that business you need to make a concerted effort to learn some of these basic technologies about the web and IT services.
Great opportunities to do great things. It's very fast-moving. There are opportunities when you deal within the Department of Defense to get access very quickly to high-end systems, technological systems, systems used globally, technologies that are far beyond what you might be able to do in the public sector.
So I would suggest that a lot of this force is self-schooling, a lot of reading, a lot of time visiting different organizations and how they do business, but there are great opportunities in the civilian sector, in the Department of Army civilian sector, and also in the military sector in these technologies. It's in demand. It is something the Army needs and it is something our nation needs to empower those war fighters to do the things that are important for our nation in the future.
Mr. Lawrence: Well, that'll have to be our last question for this morning. Chuck and I want to thank you very much for joining us, General.
Lt. Gen. Boutelle: Thank you, Chuck. Thank you, Paul. It's been a pleasure.
Mr. Lawrence: Thank you. This has been The Business of Government Hour featuring a conversation with Lieutenant General Steve Boutelle, Chief Information Officer and G-6 of the US Department of Army. Be sure and visit us on the web at businessofgovernment.org. There you can learn more about our programs and research into new approaches to improving government effectiveness and you can also get a transcript of today's fascinating conversation. Once again that's businessofgovernment.org.
This is Paul Lawrence. Thank you for listening.
Monday, June 21, 2004
Mr. Lawrence: Good morning and welcome to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, partner in charge of The IBM Center for The Business of Government. We created the Center in 1998 to encourage discussion and research into new approaches to improving government effectiveness. Find out more about the Center by visiting us on the web at www.businessofgovernment.org.
The Business of Government Hour features a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business. Our conversation today is with Rodney Bent. Rodney�s a professional staffer on the House Appropriations Committee. But perhaps more interesting, he�s just come back from six months in Iraq, where he�s been the director of the CPA�s Office of Management and Budget and also served as a senior adviser to the Iraqi Ministry of Finance.
Good morning, Rodney.
Mr. Bent: Good morning.
Mr. Lawrence: And joining us in our conversation also from IBM is Jonathan Breul.
Good morning, Jonathan.
Mr. Breul: Good morning.
Mr. Lawrence: Well, Rodney, let�s start at the beginning. Could you begin by describing for our listeners how the resources were allocated for the reconstruction of Iraq?
Mr. Bent: Certainly, absolutely. There were three pots of money. Perhaps the most important pot of money is Iraq�s own resources, the oil money that it earned both currently and then previously under Saddam, under the Oil for Food Program. That�s about, in terms of the �04 budget, $21 billion.
In addition, there was 18.4 billion that was appropriated last year, and prior to that, a couple of billion, 3 billion that Congress also appropriated. Finally, there was the about 12-, $13 billion that other countries had pledged to help Iraq in its reconstruction in a Madrid conference in October of 2003.
Mr. Lawrence: Now money was allocated through the supplemental. And I�m curious, is there precedent for allocating money this way?
Mr. Bent: There is. The President requested something over $21 billion, I think, originally. And he presented his request in a format with about 10 or 11 sectors, about 60 line items, such as power generation or potable water. But he really was requesting a large amount of money that would be similar -- that he could use in a flexible manner similar to what had been done with the Y2K fund or the supplemental immediately after the September 11th tragedy.
Mr. Breul: Rodney, the Coalition Provisional Authority, or CPA, was the name of the temporary governing body which has been designated by the United Nations as the lawful government of Iraq until Iraq assumes sovereignty. What role did the CPA play in managing the fund?
Mr. Bent: Oh, a huge role. Ambassador Bremer was essentially the fiscal steward for the Iraqi funds, and he was also, if you will, the person who was allocating the American supplemental. What he and the CPA did essentially was to try and put together a budget and a resource plan for the reconstruction of Iraq.
Mr. Breul: Well, what are the critical skills required to manage and provide oversight for the reconstruction funds?
Mr. Bent: Good question. I think that when I got out there, I discovered that I had a staff of 10 or 11 people who were enthusiastic, young, intelligent, but had never worked on budget issues before. And so one of the skills, and we can talk a little bit later about this, is sort of that fundamental analytical perspective, how to listen, how to ask the right questions. What kind of options do you prepare? Who�s doing what? What are the consequences if you do it a certain way? Can it be done? What are the practical questions?
Mr. Breul: Well, what was your role and what were your duties then while you were in Iraq?
Mr. Bent: I had a bunch of them. I was the head of the CPA Office of Management and Budget. I was the senior adviser to the Ministry of Finance. And I was also the senior adviser to the Ministry of Planning and Development Cooperation, and other duties as assigned.
Mr. Lawrence: How do you get three jobs?
Mr. Bent: Well, essentially the titles were meaningless in the sense that we were sort of inventing as we went along. It wasn�t structured. You went you there and you essentially would see things that needed doing, questions that needed to asked, or problems that needed to be addressed. And so a lot of times, you know, we were working on things that would have been well outside the purview of what you would normally think of. For example, we worked on the pay structure for Iraqi civil servants, you know, who gets paid how much, how they�re defined. That is not something that usually a Ministry of Finance or an OMB would look at, but there, it was essential. And then you add in things like reforming the pension system or handling food subsidies, oil subsidies, electricity subsidies, building electric power plants. It was just a huge range of activities.
Mr. Lawrence: What does a typical day look like when you�re doing these kind of things?
Mr. Bent: Well, it was intense. Generally people were in the office by 7:00 in the morning and we would go until 10:00, 11:00, midnight, 1:00, or 2:00, 7 days a week. The only time we theoretically had off were Friday mornings between about 9:00 and 12:30, where I say �theoretically,� because no meetings were supposed to be held, but, in fact, people tended to go to the office because that�s where the computers were, that�s where you could get things done. Well, it was tough.
Mr. Lawrence: Tell us about your experiences leading up to this role.
Mr. Bent: Sure. I�d been, for five years prior to doing this job, the senior career head of the international division at the Office of Management and Budget, and I�d worked at OMB for about 20 years. Before that I�d been a banker in New York and had worked at the U.S. Treasury Department in their international division.
Mr. Lawrence: And then tell us about, given your experiences, walk us through your decision to actually go to Iraq.
Mr. Bent: Well, it was a little spontaneous. I got a call from the Pentagon asking if I knew anybody who would be interested in working on budgets in Iraq, and I said I would. And they said, well, the search is over.
Mr. Lawrence: And when you got there, how would you compare and contrast your experiences sort of in Washington versus working there just in terms of, say, management skills and the kinds of things, you know, you would think about as an adviser?
Mr. Bent: There are a lot of similarities, especially given work at OMB, where usually there�s a lot of conflict: agencies want more money, the Congress wants more information, the President wants more flexibility. And some of those same conflicts play out -- or played out in Iraq as well, but there were just extra complexities in Iraq, there were extra challenges.
Take small things, like phones. Here, everybody�s got phones, faxes, E-mail. There, the phones, there were no land lines in Baghdad, so everybody had to use small cellular phones. The signals were erratic. In fact, I had -- used to have to stand on a chair at the Ministry of Finance to try and call back to CPA with the cell phone. Most people didn�t have phones, and so although the CPA provided cell phones to the Minister and his senior deputies, they weren�t always on, you couldn�t always find people. And so just basic communication was hard.
Plus, Iraq is a society that prizes that kind of personal relationship. Things that you might do here over the phone, there, they really required a face-to-face meeting. You had to sit down and you had to have tea, you had to talk about families, you had to talk about your personal relationship. It�s a very intimate kind of way of doing business.
Mr. Lawrence: Well, how about just continuing on the tactical? How about just languages?
Mr. Bent: Most of the Iraqis that we dealt with were quite fluent in English, to a greater or lesser degree. We did have interpreters and you�d use them in situations where it was important that you get the facts or the nuances exactly right. But by and large, we conducted business in English, and that was less of a problem than I thought it might be.
Mr. Lawrence: And then how about the speed of decision-making? As you were describing all the challenges in your different roles, I couldn�t help but think of sort of a desire to go fast and get things done. And when you talked about the relationships people needed, having tea, it seemed like go slow, so I�m sure it�s been a balancing act.
Mr. Bent: There was clearly a lot of cultural differences, if you will. Ambassador Bremer�s a very decisive guy. Anybody who�s been in a meeting with him, you know, he wants the facts, he wants your recommendation, he wants to know why you think this way. He�ll ask, frankly, a series of very probing questions and he makes a decision.
With the Iraqis, it�s a different cultural mode of handling things. There�s a great respect for I think elders. And so that means that when you have a conversation, you have to make sure that the oldest person in the room has a say. You have to make sure that there�s a traditional -- or terrific emphasis on coming to a consensus. It�s -- people might say what they think, but they always want to bring in other people. And so you found yourself frequently having to make sure that you talked with everybody and that you drew people out in a way, and did it in a respectful manner. It�s considered very rude to directly contradict somebody. It�s not that people don�t say no, but they would preface it by saying, well, with respect, I appreciate what you�re saying, but in fact, I must offer up an alternative suggestion as opposed to you�re an idiot. And that took a little while to get used to.
If you�re coming from a culture that kind of prizes decisiveness and get it done and do it now to a culture where you have to explain the context, people want to know what your motivation is, why are you doing this, what are the implications, what does it mean for them. And that just takes more time, but in some sense it�s worth it because once they�re persuaded, then they will do it.
Mr. Lawrence: How did all these things change your management approaches and styles while you were there?
Mr. Bent: The absolute importance of listening carefully. Before I went over, I asked a variety of people at the World Bank or AID or the State Department what it was like and what the issues were. And I think one of the best pieces of advice I got was to listen to what the Iraqis wanted, not just jump ahead and assume that they would want the same things that we would want. And so I spent, frankly, a lot of my time listening and then trying to summarize and then trying to present options that would reflect what they wanted.
Mr. Lawrence: Can you give me an example of where they would not want what we wanted?
Mr. Bent: In terms of basic personal security, the aftermath of the war was really a disaster, the looting, the crime. The Iraqis had this tremendous sense of personal vulnerability in which your kids could be kidnapped as they were walking to school; cars were taken. It�s impossible to project that sense of insecurity to, say, people here in Washington. You walk out your door, you get in your car, you drive off, you don�t worry about somebody taking shots at you, you don�t worry about your kids being grabbed while they�re being walked to school, you don�t worry about a ransom note, you don�t worry about roadside bombs or grenades or gunshots. And yet, that�s part of everyday life in Iraq. And so, you know, there�s that huge difference there, so security is one thing.
Basic infrastructure, electricity, communication, telephones, these are all things, employment, that are important to Iraqis. And yet, for the Americans I think when we were there, and I�ll just use this as an example, not to pass judgment, but security, sort of training the Iraqi police or training the Iraqi armed forces, and that clearly is part of dealing with that first problem I talked about, security. But it was such a long-term solution, it was something where, you know, by the time the police were trained and equipped, it was going to be months down the road. And yet, what the Iraqis wanted now was being able to walk out their door and not feel like they were going to be killed.
Mr. Lawrence: Interesting.
How has the economy of Iraq changed over the last two years? We�ll ask Rodney Bent to take us through the stages of the economy pre-Iraqi Freedom and what it�s like now when The Business of Government Hour returns.
Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I�m Paul Lawrence, and this morning�s conversation is with Rodney Bent. Rodney�s on the professional staff of the House Appropriations Committee.
And joining us in our conversation is Jonathan Breul.
Well, Rodney, in this segment, I�d like to talk about doing business in Iraq. Perhaps you could begin by telling us more about the political and social and economic contexts in the country. What were your observations about the people of Iraq in terms of their sense of history and the social cohesion?
Mr. Bent: I guess the starting point for Iraq is really the fall of the Ottoman Empire in World War I. And out of that wreckage the British, particularly for the history buffs, Richard Bell created an Iraq that previously was probably several parts. I mean, one would be Kurdistan, the third would be the Arab Sunni middle, if you will, and then there would be the Shia south.
Iraq has, you know, a huge history. I mean, you go back to Mesopotamia and Babylon, so it�s got 5,000 years� worth of history, but really only for the last 80 or 90 years as the country of Iraq. And so there are a lot of disparate groups. I mean, you categorize yourself by religion, by tribe, by ethnicity, by family, by clan, by whether you�re educated or not educated, rural, urban. There are just lots and lots of different ways of classifying yourself.
I was struck in some ways by how -- rigid might be the wrong word, but maybe class-conscious Iraqis were. Everybody knew sort of where you fit, that there wasn�t the kind of -- there was sort of a long history to families. And so people would say, oh, he comes from a good family. And the upper tiers of the Iraqi society are really both very well educated and everybody knows everybody. So for example, the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Planning had a wife who worked as the director general of the Ministry of Finance, and everybody tended to be friends, to have gone to school with the other people. And so there was kind of, on the one hand, a whole series of divisions and, on the other hand, a kind of a cohesiveness. And it made for some strange interrelations.
Mr. Breul: Rodney, can you give us a sense of the state of the economy in Iraq before Operation Iraqi Freedom, and then what it was like when you were there?
Mr. Bent: The Saddam economy was essentially a disaster. The state ran everything. It was in a state of decay and decrepitude. It relied essentially on the Oil for Food Program to feed people. It�s -- if you drive down or go through Baghdad, even the nicer sections have a kind of a shabbiness, and I was just, frankly, struck by how rundown and decrepit and used everything seemed. Cars were all 10, 15 years old, battered, missing headlights, bumpers ripped off. It was a huge contrast to go to another Arab country, say Jordan and Amman or Abu Dhabi, and see essentially a complete contrast, with new cars, new buildings, paved streets, functioning electricity, everything. I think that the -- you know, Saddam obviously and his coterie of folks didn�t suffer from any of this, but you really felt the plight of everyday Iraqis.
Mr. Lawrence: And was it changing after Saddam or how --
Mr. Bent: I think just huge changes that you could see. I mean, there were probably a million additional cars on the street by the time I left. In fact, when I arrived in late October, you could drive through downtown Baghdad without too much trouble. I mean, the streets are broad, but there wasn�t a lot of traffic. By the time I left, people were complaining about the traffic. It would take an hour to get somewhere; everything was gridlocked.
You could see on some of the shopping districts just stacks of warehouse goods: refrigerators, air conditioners, TVs, satellites. There was an explosion in satellite TV, and you just felt like this society had opened up in some way from going -- from the closed Saddam period where, you know, you couldn�t own -- nobody had satellite TVs to a period where it seemed like every family who could afford one was out buying one.
Mr. Lawrence: Well, what are the types of challenges people like yourself face when you�re working in Iraq on a day-to-day basis?
Mr. Bent: Huge. I mean, the -- one challenge is communications. I talked about the cell phones, but that meant it was very difficult to get ahold of people. And Iraq, essentially, it was frozen in time. There was a Rip Van Winkle quality to, you know, pre-1991 and post-1991. So that, for example, in the medical schools, the journals stop in 1990, 1991. There are no recent journals.
People were not used to a computer. In fact, when I went to the Board of Supreme Audit, which was kind of a combination GAO and auditing firm, we talked about their use of computers and auditing processes. And they said, well, yes, of course we use computers. Let�s show you the computer center. Well, you go. Well, there are no computers in the computer center. What they meant by computers was essentially doing spreadsheets and very basic work as opposed what we might think of in terms of auditing.
Danger was clearly the second thing. Every time you strapped on your flak jacket and put on a helmet and drove out of the Green Zone, you were always a little bit nervous about, well, what might happen. The day before I left, in fact, one of my staff came in and very apologetically said, well, he�s sorry, but he�d wrecked the car. And, you know, I felt a little bit like, okay, I�m the dad and the teenage son has come back. And well, it turned out he�d been shot at by somebody driving a pickup truck with an AK and he�d just riddled the car with bullets, and it was just a miracle that the staffer wasn�t injured or killed. And I mean, that -- you know, one of my translators was blown up in a bomb on January 18th. You know, it was -- that gives a different perspective on things.
Mr. Breul: Let�s talk about the project implementation stage of the resources that were allocated for the reconstruction of Iraq. Can you describe the types of projects that the Defense Department, the State Department, and the U.S. Agency of International Development are implementing?
Mr. Bent: Sure. Broadly speaking, the Defense Department was doing two areas. One area was clearly security: training the Iraqi armed forces; training the ancillary groups, Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, the border enforcement. They were also, through the Project Management Office, handling a lot of the reconstruction of Iraq itself. The Army Corps of Engineers was heavily involved, so power plants, dams, irrigation, railroad, roads. Defense was involved in all of these things.
The State Department was working on training police on some of the democracy programs. AID was doing some of the reconstruction along with Defense on electricity, but they were also doing health, education, some other governance issues, trying to help the Iraqis establish what we would call a civil society.
Mr. Lawrence: The reconstruction has relied on a lot of private contractors, and that�s not without controversy in terms of pluses and minuses. I�d be curious sort of your perspective and some lessons learned on the use of contractors in this environment.
Mr. Bent: It�s one issue is using contractors to do what we�d call inherently governmental services. And, you know, whether you talk about the tragedy at Abu Gharib or, you know, clearly there�s been -- you know, that�s just horrible abuses. But really, contractors bring you a lot of things that you wouldn�t otherwise get. I mean, there are not many people in the U.S. Government that have sat around building power plants or looking at dams or being civil engineers. You get some, but they don�t generally -- they oversee, they don�t generally do. And so private contractors were essential.
I think it�s a little bit different when you talk about policing or some of the other things where there�s clearly a gray area in terms of what gets defined, who does what.
Mr. Lawrence: There�s a sense of one perspective that an awful lot of money�s being spent on contractors and, gee, you know, people are taking advantage of the system. There�s also a sense that, gee, this is a very high -- this is a very risky place, as you�ve indicated.
Mr. Bent: Yeah.
Mr. Lawrence: It probably does cost more to get people motivated. As the budget guy, how did you work that equation?
Mr. Bent: Well, it was an increasing part of the equation as we were ending. As I was leaving, I was listening to I think it was Mr. Waxman talking about trucks in Iraq and saying, well, people didn�t have -- they would abandon an $85,000 truck because it had a flat tire. And I don�t know this to be the case, but I was speculating in my mind, well, anybody who�s driven on a highway in Iraq knows that you�re not going to pull over and change a flat. I mean, that�s a sure way of getting killed. And so, you know, on the one hand it points out the risks of working in Iraq and just the extraordinary extra cost for security that you have to pay. On the other hand, you can sort of say, well, heck, why are we doing that if it�s going to cost, you know, for lack of a spare tire, we�re going to lose an $85,000 truck? Should we be doing that?
Mr. Lawrence: And how about the personal benefits when you see people interviewed now in the media? I mean, they do cite sort of, you know, sort of a Peace Corps kind of I should be there, I should go and help these people.
Mr. Bent: You know, I think that -- I never knew anybody over there who was in it for the money. And maybe truck drivers for Halliburton or whatever, but by and large, the folks at CPA were a pretty high-minded lot. I mean, it -- everybody went over there with a sense of purpose, with a kind of desire to help in any way you could.
I think that it was kind of interesting and contrasting sort of my experience at OMB with being over there. In both cases, you have talented staff, you have people who are motivated, but there was much more out there in CPA. There was a kind of a camaraderie; we�re all in this together. You know, whatever people felt about the war, and there were a range of people who actively didn�t support the war to people who were fervent believers, but that was essentially irrelevant. The war was, as far as I was concerned, was over and done with. We had to do what we could to help the Iraqi society.
Mr. Lawrence: That�s a fascinating point about the different perspectives on the war.
What types of management flexibilities are needed to manage funds in an ever-changing environment? We�ll ask Rodney Bent to tell us what he saw during his time in Iraq when The Business of Government Hour returns.
Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I�m Paul Lawrence, and today�s conversation is with Rodney Bent. Rodney�s on the professional staff of the House Appropriations Committee.
And joining us in our conversation is Jonathan Breul.
Well, Rodney, let�s talk about managing the fund in the section. The supplemental was set up to fund 10 priority areas. Could you talk to us about some of the key areas, and what was the strategy in terms of what to focus on first and prioritize?
Mr. Bent: Sure. The supplemental had, as you say, about 10 areas. The 60 line items, as we would call them, were things like training police or building electricity or electricity transmission. When the President requested it, the focus was clearly on what I�d call hard infrastructure: dams, power projects, that kind of thing.
What changed a little bit while I was there is that, well, first, in the middle of November, there was the announcement that we were going to give the Iraqis back sovereignty on June 30th, which meant that people suddenly started focusing on democracy and elections and all the things that go with a democracy, things that we take for granted here like organized political parties, a responsible media, a way of getting the message out. There, you know, you have dozens of parties, you have every tribe, every politician in some sense sort of mobilizes, and the media is just almost a cacophony of print and radio and TV. So it was -- you know, we clearly needed to put more money into helping Iraqis pull together what they were going to probably do anyway, which is organize themselves into competing groups, if you will.
Mr. Breul: We�ve talked about how the fund was set up to be as flexible as possible given the ever-changing environment in Iraq. Can you give us some more examples of when priorities changed and just how that changed the projects that were being funded?
Mr. Bent: Sure. Well, distinguish a little bit. The request would have had the fund be as flexible as possible. I think that Congress when they reviewed it said, well, we�ll give you essentially what you want, but we want to make sure you�re going to spend the money as you say you�re going to spend the money. And so they put restrictions on how you could move it around. In other words, they wanted to make sure that if you said you were going to train a certain number of police that you really trained a certain number of police, that you didn�t move that to a different area.
I think that tradeoff between flexibility on the one hand and accountability and oversight on the other, it�s kind of a creative tension, if you will. It forces people to decide what�s important and to think about if they want to move funding, you know, what it is that they�re going to be doing. What are you going to get if you move the funding?
Mr. Breul: How did you provide for that accountability? I mean, there wasn�t a large tracking system in place.
Mr. Bent: Not compared to what we have back here, no. Well, we -- Congress required quarterly reports, the first of which I worked on when I was in Baghdad that came back. It was well over 100 pages. It went through each of the major sectors, each of the line items, if you will, and talked about vocational training, micro credit, education, water, electricity, you name it, and explained what we were going to do with the money and how we -- the periodicity, the quarters, by which we were going to do the spending.
I think in some ways it was a good system. It was a useful discipline for thinking about what we wanted to do. And because the report is quarterly, you can change it over time. You can say, heck, you know, this is now less important than we thought it was three or six months ago. We need to spend a little bit more on another sector.
Mr. Breul: Tell us some more about the challenges inherent in managing such a fund. For example, how do you go about just estimating the cost of funding a project?
Mr. Bent: Sure. That�s a good question. The starting point was always working with the Iraqi ministries on what they wanted. And so, for example, if you were working in the water resources area -- and that�s hugely important in Iraq in a way that, you know, here you might, oh, well, that�s sort of water, that�s good, but there it�s dams, it�s irrigation, it�s canals, it�s, you know, essential to the functioning of the Iraqi economy.
And so the senior adviser for water resources would work with the Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources. They�d come up with a series of dams, canals, irrigation projects, and they would put a price tag on it. That price tag or that series -- that project would go over to the Project Management Office within CPA and they�d look at it and they�d say, well, how good are the estimates? They tended to add funding for uncertainty. You know, was it -- had it been engineered out? They added money -- or they added a cushion, if you will, for security costs. And so a project that might start off costing, hypothetical, $100 would cost $125 or $140 that same project when it was looked at by the PMO, not because the project itself had changed, but because they wanted to build in ranges for uncertainty. And the cost would change again when the actual contractor or construction company looking at it got in there and could say, oh, well, you know, we don�t have a road, we can�t get this particular piece of equipment, we�ll need to do something different here.
So all the way through there was kind of almost a loop in which you�d start with the Iraqi ministries, go to the PMO, and then as they call it, task orders get written and the construction firms begin looking at things.
Mr. Lawrence: Give us a sense � earlier, you talked about just sort of the different things that are going on. As you were describing developing the price estimate for the Iraqis for the first part of that, I just began to think about data collection and how that�s done in an environment that�s so very different.
Mr. Bent: Yeah. Well, good point. We were always operating in a -- like being a ship�s captain where you don�t have radar and you�re not entirely sure where you are. For example, when I got to Iraq, the common estimates of unemployment or underemployment were sort of in the 50 to 60 percent range. When we left, the Ministry of Planning, which was responsible for pulling together the statistics, said, well, they kind of reckoned the unemployment rate was, you know, around 20 percent and the underemployment rate was about 28 -- 25 to 30 percent. So -- but how did they get those statistics? Where did they come from? How good were they? How were they, if you will, annualized? All of that was sort of a work in progress. So you were -- we were forever hoping that we�d kind of gotten the basics right without really knowing if we had.
Mr. Lawrence: And also, how do you manage? There�s multiple sources of money, so we have multiple projects and multiple sources of money. I can�t help but think about duplication and just accounting.
Mr. Bent: Sure.
Mr. Lawrence: How did all that work?
Mr. Bent: Well, I think the primary emphasis was on getting stuff done. And so if you were looking -- if you were working with the Minister of Electricity on power projects, you clearly had a finite set of projects that you were dealing with. And whether those projects were going to be financed by Iraqi resources, by the development fund for Iraq, or by the supplemental, you�d clearly talk about it and you could work out that part of it.
But the follow-on part, and this is where I think the advantage of having people who�ve worked on budgets was important, the real question was not could you build more power plants or fly in generators, if you will; it�s the fuel for those generators and the pipelines and whether you�re going to use treated crude or whether their refined product was available. Those are the kinds of follow-on questions that we were struggling with.
And because I think the Iraqi body politic had been so dominated by Saddam and by the Baathist Party for 35 years, it was a top-down process. And so people we just used to getting orders and essentially following them without really talking about the dynamic. And so, you know, it was a little bit Stalinistic. I mean, if the Minister of Electricity was told build power plants, he�d build them. That didn�t mean that the Minister of Oil, for example, knew that he, therefore, had to supply, you know, how many thousands of metric tons in order to fuel those power plants.
And that�s the kind of give-and-take that, you know, we were sort of working towards, bringing that together. That was part of the challenge of the Program Review Board and part of the challenge of my job, and certainly that of Ambassador Bremer.
Mr. Lawrence: Was it hard for these folks who had not operated on that sort of system of learning and collaboration to get to that point?
Mr. Bent: Well, yes and no. I mean, there�s clearly, because of the, you know, the back and forth in Iraqi society, you know, a real tendency to talk about everything. On the other hand, you know, I think they were so used to following orders, there was sort of that tension. One of the things I�m proudest of was a moment in the Program Review Board, which used to look at all of the spending proposals. And the Minister of Finance had always been a member of the board, but we succeeded in getting the Minister of Planning to come and the Board of Supreme Audit to look at it. And I began to have ministries that wanted to do projects, like the Ministry of Electricity come in and give their proposals essentially directly. And then the Minister of Finance or really his staff would challenge, well, what about this? Did you consider that? It was really great. I mean, you could sort of see essentially how people were arguing over actual spending. They had some control, some empowerment over what they were doing in a way that, you know, would have been inconceivable five years before.
Mr. Breul: Rodney, who comprised the members of the Program Review Board and how did it sort through all the competing demands?
Mr. Bent: There were probably 10 or 11 different groups represented on the Program Review Board: Australians; the United Kingdom�s Department for International Development; members of the CJTF-7, which was the multinational force, if you will; various members of CPA; and then obviously the Minister of Finance, and then, as I say, we succeeded in getting other Iraqis to participate in the meetings of the board.
It would meet once a week, typically Saturday mornings, but there�d be staff meetings. There was a lot of interaction back and forth. We�d put the minutes up on the web so that if you had access to the Internet, you could at least see what was there. We arranged for translators to be there to make sure that we were really having, you know, full and open consultations.
Mr. Lawrence: That�s a fascinating point.
When the funds were provided to Iraq, quarterly reports were prepared, as Rodney described. He�s been one of the people who�s been there when the first reports were prepared, and now he receives them on the Hill. We�ll ask him what it�s like to review this reporting requirement from both sides when The Business of Government Hour returns.
Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I�m Paul Lawrence, and this morning�s conversation is with Rodney Bent. Rodney is on the professional staff on the House Appropriations Committee.
And joining us in our conversation is Jonathan Breul.
Mr. Breul: Rodney, what role did Congress play and does play in the distribution of the funds and the reconstruction efforts?
Mr. Bent: Huge role obviously in terms of the initial appropriation, but then also the subsequent oversight, both getting the reports from CPA, and presumably in the future, it�ll be the State Department on what�s being done, asking questions, looking at the components of the spending, making sure it all adds up.
Mr. Lawrence: You talked about the reports earlier and that you were there pulling together the first one, and now you receive it. Can you reflect on the process of pulling the report together and interpreting it from the different points of view?
Mr. Bent: Sure. When I got out to Baghdad, I thought that I�d get out and find, you know, well-established routines, people who had clearly put together the first report and done I thought a very good job and could explain what was behind all of the assumptions. When I got out there, a lot of those people had already moved on in some sense. And so we were starting from not ground zero, but we were, in a lot of cases, reinventing what had been done. Who was going to carry something out? Why did we make these assumptions about the number of power plants or the number of police who were going to be trained or the number of staff? And you have to adjust that.
There was clearly, I think, as an example, a desire to spend more on security because that was more important. And so the Iraqi armed forces, which were initially conceived of as I think an agent against external aggression, sort of in the change I think became less relevant than, say, standing up the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, which was part of the internal group that was helping the multinational force deal with the insurgencies.
Mr. Lawrence: When we think about reporting, of course, you get lots of money, you need reporting. And some would argue reporting is sort of this bureaucratic thing and it slows things down and causes more layers. What was your perspective?
Mr. Bent: Well, it -- I think it�s a useful discipline. It forces people to ask the questions that need to be asked. What�s the structure? Who�s going to carry it out? What are the reasonable expectations? What�s not? It�s what people do with the reports where I think that, you know, you can ask questions about, okay, do they have a role in asking tough questions. If you get to a level of questioning that really does slow things down, gee, you can�t answer who�s going to carry out this project in this governance, and so, therefore, you ought not to do it. Then you�re clearly impeding progress. But to ask questions about, well, who�s going to carry it out and what do you hope to achieve, that�s entirely legitimate.
Mr. Breul: Given the fact that Iraq has recently emerged as a sovereign nation, what are some of the challenges that you foresee for this new country?
Mr. Bent: Oh, huge challenges. One is going to be security, clearly. Second will be corruption, which under Saddam flourished at all levels. And Iraq, I think, previously was, and these are relative, a secular, humanistic culture in which honesty was prized. And yet, over the last 35 years or so, it�s moved to a period in which all sorts of rake-offs and kickbacks and corruption and influence-peddling is all part of the norm of doing business. I think, at least I hope, that more transparency, more accountability, more -- it�s not honesty, because that gives a value-laden term that I don�t think is appropriate here, but more transparent way of doing business, I guess, so that people can see that they�re getting full value for their dinars.
Mr. Lawrence: I�d be curious how you reflect on your time in terms of the expectations that have been placed on this whole process.
Mr. Bent: I think you can -- looking back on it now, the expectations of a year and a half ago were clearly way too high in terms of building a liberal democracy and a free market economy that was going to, you know, maybe not be on a par with Switzerland, but certainly up there. And I think those were absolutely unmeetable expectations. And so much more realistic would be to say can you get a functioning economy? Can you start a banking system? Can you get a government that makes essential decisions on behalf of its citizens? I think that�s possible.
I think the violence and, you know, the coming together that I hope will happen would prevent what would be a disaster, which would be a civil war and warring groups and everybody thinking that they�re entitled to take what they can take by force of arms.
Mr. Lawrence: In another aspect of your very unique experience has been working with people of different cultures, but also the military, the State Department. I wonder how you sort of reflect on all that.
Mr. Bent: Sure. I -- out there, I have just the utmost respect for the military. It�s -- setting aside Abu Gharib and whatever you think of that, I -- you know, coming back from meetings at the Ministry of Finance, and you�d see kids standing at checkpoints absolutely exposed and not knowing whether there was a sniper or whether they were going to be killed doing their job. But there was really a degree of professionalism that was -- I just found incredibly impressive. People were thrown into doing things that they had no training for. Civil affairs officers were working with the Ministry of Social Affairs on things like vocational training programs, and they kind of plunged into it. It was sort of a think outside the box, be innovative, what works, and, you know, they were sort of, you know, we�re in this. You know, we got to do something. What can we do? You know, what works? Well, if that doesn�t work, okay, let�s try something else. There was a real entrepreneurial kind of get-it-done feeling out there.
Mr. Breul: What about members of your budget team? How did they perform and how was their work environment?
Mr. Bent: Well, it -- we would leave the Green Zone probably six days a week, Friday being the holy day, and so people got out there. When I got out there, I think staff were young and talented and hard-working, but they didn�t really have a lot of experience in budget matters. And so, you know, part of it was throwing them into it and helping them as best you could. But it, I think, gets a little bit to, well, what kinds of skills were required and what kinds of folks should be out there.
The British and the Australians sent mid-level employees who worked for five or ten years on things like financial markets or budgets. And, you know, what is a little missing in the discussion back here is the contribution of the other countries to the civil reconstruction, if you will. And I will say that my Australian and British colleagues were absolutely invaluable, and they were huge important parts of whatever successes we did have.
Mr. Lawrence: Well, with that as a perspective, I�d be curious what advice, based on your career as well as your recent experience, what advice would you give to someone interested in a career in public service?
Mr. Bent: The challenges of public service are that you�re going to find a kind of a commitment and a desire to get things done that -- well, I�m not putting this very well, but I think what -- you�re going to find challenges that you�re just not going to find in the private sector. You�re going to be given awesome levels of responsibility that are going to be well beyond anything you might do as a 25- or a 30-year-old in a company. It�s on the one hand daunting and, on the other hand, it forces you to grow.
I think that if I were looking back on sort of, you know, my own career, I think that a lot of what you learn in the public sector, sort of analyzing choices, trying to bring a neutral, turn the coin and look at both sides perspective to issues, that�s important. You can�t go in and be a moralist and try to judge people�s motives. You�ve got to deal with the world as you find it. And I think that that and the camaraderie and the sense of purpose were what I most enjoyed about CPA.
Mr. Lawrence: Well, I know Jonathan and I could ask you many more questions, but I�m afraid we�re out of time. Rodney, we want to thank you for being with us this morning.
Mr. Bent: Thank you.
Mr. Lawrence: This has been The Business of Government Hour, featuring a conversation with Rodney Bent. Rodney�s a professional staffer on the House Appropriations Committee, but for the past six months, he�s been the director of the CPA�s Office of Management and Budget a senior adviser for the Iraqi Ministry of Finance.
Be sure and visit us on the web at businessofgovernment.org. There, you can learn more about our programs and get a transcript of today�s very fascinating conversation. Once again, that�s businessofgovernment.or
This is Paul Lawrence. Thank you for listening.
Thursday, May 20, 2004
Mr. Lawrence: Good morning, and welcome to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, partner in charge of the IBM Center for The Business of Government. We created The Center in 1998 to encourage discussion and research into new approach to improving government effectiveness. You can find out more about The Center by visiting us on the web at businessofgovernment.org.
The Business of Government Hour features a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business. Our conversation this morning is with Mark Krzysko, the Deputy Director of Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy e-Business in the Office of Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics.
Good morning, Mark.
Mr. Krzysko: Good morning.
Mr. Lawrence: And joining us in our conversation, also from IBM, is Linda Marshall.
Good morning, Linda.
Ms. Marshall: Good morning.
Mr. Lawrence: Well, Mark, let's start by getting right to it. Could you tell us about the modernization of DoD's acquisition process?
Mr. Krzysko: Yes, I will. What I'd like to talk about is over the past several years, we've been moving forward and modernizing the acquisition business process. Last year, we took a major step within the Department of modernizing the acquisition process, and that is the 5,000 processes we call it there. This year, we're working on the defense acquisition regulation and attempting to streamline our regulations to make it easier for people to do business. That modernization is to remove a lot of the regulatory aspects of what we're trying to do so we can become more commercialized in the way we do business as a department.
Now, certainly, we can't be perfectly commercial as an entity because we are a federal government and have rules and regulations. But to ease that pain and move forward in the regulations through those two major initiatives, as well as other initiatives, that principally being what I have to do is work with the business modernization program on how we would reengineer the business process for the acquisition community, and that, too, is also another significant effort.
Mr. Lawrence: How do you ensure that what you're doing is supporting the war fighter?
Mr. Krzysko: I believe we begin and end always with the war fighter, because it's not about the business process; it's how we improve the business process and support the war fighter. Quite simply, it's getting goods and services to the war fighter in the field, and that's what our role is. We do that within the Department of Defense and we try to measure that in our goals of being sure that we meet the role of the war fighter, because in purchasing goods and services, it's the significant aspect of what we do.
Ms. Marshall: Mark, to give our listeners a sense of the magnitude of business that flows through DoD, could you tell us the amount of contracts awarded daily, monthly, annually by DoD?
Mr. Krzysko: I pulled to metrics, one from '02 and one for '03 in the fiscal year. In '02, we awarded 5.4 million actions that account for almost $180 billion worth of business. In '03, we had 5.9 million transactions for almost $220 billion. I did the math with that, and that's about 15,000 transactions daily, amounting to almost $500 million a day.
Mr. Lawrence: Is there an equivalent that people could think about in another sector in terms of the magnitude of those transactions?
Mr. Krzysko: I have not been able to find the one that can amass that amount of transactions. When we look across the federal government, the Department of Defense accounts for about 60 percent of the business either in transactions or in dollars.
Ms. Marshall: Can you describe the kinds of skill sets of the people that work for the Office of Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy?
Mr. Krzysko: I'd like to answer that two ways: one within the Department and one within my directorate, as well as what we do within the acquisition community, because if you look at the acquisition community as a whole, we span the gamut, everything from systems engineering and engineers, logistics, contracting, financial management to the broad skill set even with the e-Business Directorate, which are principally programmatic skills, acquisition management skills, contracting skills. In the e Business Directorate we also had the other aspect of that. It's information technology and what that means to us. So it's connecting all the business process with information technology skill sets for us to move forward.
Ms. Marshall: What is your role as the Deputy Director of Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy in e Business?
Mr. Krzysko: My role, as I see it, is to, one, lead and coordinate the services and components with leading the transformation to e-business, because it is about delivering technological solutions to our people, men and women and the field, that support the war fighter. The Army, Navy, Air Force, and the other components do the purchasing for the Department, but they need to find a place to look for, in terms of business processes, what systems we need to employ, how we need to employ them. So we really have that leadership coordination role for the Department as it relates to the acquisition business process.
Ms. Marshall: Can you tell us about your career and the positions prior to your current position?
Mr. Krzysko: My career really came in two segments. I worked in the private industry for about 11 years. I worked in retail. I started at Woodward & Lothrop, the department store that's no longer here in the city, and then I moved to Lord & Taylor. I worked at everything from a dock supervisor through the store comptroller to the operations administrator at Woodies at Chevy Chase, and then I moved on to Lord & Taylor, where I was the assistant managing director, and I was responsible for all the operations aspects of that as well as human resources.
I decided I wanted to move on with my career so I went back to school and I got a job with the government, and that job was with the Naval Air Systems Command, and I started again, my career, in my early 30s at the Naval Air Systems Command as a contracts specialist. I was a contracts specialist for the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Department, then I moved over where most of my career was, as an F18 PCO. I was the foreign military sales PCO for that, moving on to F14, finally leading a BPR effort as it related to partnering with industry before this job, and my position there was the e-commerce solutions manager. My role there was to bring ERP. We were implementing an ERP and standard procurement system together, so I functioned as the business process manager for that effort.
Mr. Lawrence: You began in the private sector and then were drawn to the public sector. I'm curious, what drew you there?
Mr. Krzysko: Well, at that time it was 1990, and, if you realize, that market was pretty flat for middle management, and it was very difficult in the private sector. I thought when I wanted to grow up I was going to be a consultant in fact, and IT was drawing me at that time but I needed to move on with my career, and Naval Air Systems Command offered me an opportunity and I decided I was going pursue graduate school at the same time, so I landed a job in the public sector, didn't think I'd stay here, but loved it ever since.
Mr. Lawrence: Is there any particular experience that best prepared you for your present position?
Mr. Krzysko: I thought about that question for a while when I my answer is every one of them did, because I wouldn't be able to represent myself cross-functionally if I wasn't in a function involved in the Naval Air Systems Command. I wouldn't be able to understand finances and logistics as I did if I didn't work in an operation as a dock supervisor in receipt and acceptance, and I wouldn't understand the business process for reengineering if I didn't lead those efforts. So, bringing them all together I think has lead to the culmination of the skill set I have today, and I think it's important that if I didn't have that I wouldn't be able to function as well in this environment.
Mr. Lawrence: Leaders often have this moment in their careers where they move from being the doers of work to watching over people who do the work. I'm wondering about that point in your career and how you think about that.
Mr. Krzysko: Well, in moving forward with my career, I still believe I am a doer, and I think leadership is a doing position because you can't just talk about it; you have to do it. And you have to operationalize what the vision and what transformation needs to occur, and you have to oversee that in some fashion. I take a lot of pride in empowering the staff and empowering the people that we work with to go make that transformation happen. So, it's not only oversight. You have to participate, because leadership is not a distant position.
Mr. Lawrence: You've been around some, I'm assuming, very strong leaders in your career, and I'm curious, what were the characteristics of good leadership?
Mr. Krzysko: I've had the mantra for quite a long time, "It's vision along with detail." And that's understanding the direction you want to go as well as understanding what you need to do to get there. So often the leaders that have been successful not only had the vision but had an operational background to go make that transformation happen. Detail without vision or vision without detail makes you unsuccessful at both.
Mr. Lawrence: I'm sure as part of vision, one of the key things probably left unspoken is the need to communicate the vision. I'm just curious how you communicate how you communicate your vision in a large organization.
Mr. Krzysko: Communicating a vision at a large organization is you communicate it at a local level as well. You have to participate and build alliances with the members of your community so as you move forward they can help you realize that vision. You have to it's, quite frankly, a lot of selling techniques to ensure what you're doing, because no vision is perfect and execution is always lacking, so as you move forward you have to adjust and be sure that you're pursuing that correct direction. And you do that through partnerships, both organizationally, internally, with industry so as you move forward that vision becomes more real, more crystal every day.
Mr. Lawrence: What's the difference between acquisition and procurement? We'll ask Mark Krzysko, the Department of Defense, when The Business of Government Hour continues.
Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, and this morning's conversation is with Mark Krzysko. Mark is the Deputy Director of Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy e Business in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition Technology and Logistics.
And joining us in our conversation is Linda Marshall.
Well, Mark, let's define some commonly used terms in the defense acquisition and procurement workplace for our listener. How would you differentiate "acquisition" from "procurement"?
Mr. Krzysko: That's a great question, and I think oftentimes we use those terms synonymously. In some cases we can; in some cases we can't.
Acquisition, the way we think of it in the Department of Defense, is a much broader construct for us to deal with. It deals with everything from buying major weapons systems, from concept to development, to the delivery of the systems, to sustaining it, all the way through disposal.
Procurement is a subset of that process. The interesting aspect of that is that at any given point of that process, whether you're in concept development, delivery, or sustainment, you're utilizing procurement to realize what you're trying to acquire, so procurement is much more the transactional, the contractual base where acquisition is a much deeper concept for everything from science and technology to systems engineering all the way through the disposal of those systems in the workplace.
Ms. Marshall: What is meant by the acquisition domain, Mark, and can you tell us about its current transition in the future?
Mr. Krzysko: Well, before I tell you what the acquisition domain is, let me tell you where the acquisition domain fits. The acquisition domain is one fit in the business management modernization program. We have other domains human resources, installation environment, strategic planning and budgeting, logistics, and accounting and finance as well as acquisition. This represents the leadership of those business process owners within the Department to realize the enterprise architecture of what we're trying to achieve. The acquisition domain is a subset of that, but a huge subset nonetheless. It is intended to govern the acquisition enterprise both the systems, the process, the technologies at an enterprise level. It's to enable data interoperability at the Department to realize a data structure for the Department of Defense for the acquisition domain.
Our goals are also to modernize and streamline the acquisition business process, manage our IT portfolio, and build a collaboration workspace for us to move from. And that's not only with us in the Department of Defense but that's at a federal level as well as our industry partners.
And finally, but certainly not least, what it does is that it represents the change management component of how does it touch our people, because with the institution of technology in business process reengineering, what will we do to affect our people and how will we train them in the future and what skill set will we need.
Ms. Marshall: Can you discuss the operating environment and the influences that impact the acquisition domain?
Mr. Krzysko: The operating environment is extremely complex. What we've tried to do, and I'll borrow a common phrase used around here, is connect the dots. The operating is very complex because we have everything from the President's management agenda to the Secretary of Defense's initiative to the business modernization program, balance score card; we have GAO audits. We decided, through our acquisition domain, that many of these things had an awful lot in common and how could we realize the synergy from all of our operating environment to realize what we were trying to achieve a simpler, less redundant IT infrastructure supporting the Acquisition Department. So, what we were doing was bringing this together, and we've aligned all the major initiatives within the federal government as well as the Department, in our view, from the acquisition community, so we could grapple with each one of them or report as efficiently as we possibly could to each one of them.
Ms. Marshall: The Acquisition Governance Board is an important component of what you do and work with. Can you describe the role of the Acquisition Governance Board?
Mr. Krzysko: The Acquisition Governance Board is a critical aspect of what we have been trying to achieve. It is comprised we began this about a year ago, and we began with the senior procurement executives from all the services and components. This past few months, we've changed that to move to the broader acquisition and involved all the component acquisition executives so we can tackle procurement as well as acquisition. We realized we were part of a major community. It is a collaborative body where we have the most senior leaders of the Department of Defense represented and working to establish the strategic vision for us as a department to move forward. It was important for us to have that collaboration environment not only dictate from above but realize where we could have opportunities to move forward.
The Governance Board is really at two levels the AGB, or the Acquisition Governance Board as we call it, is the most senior level, and then we take the next tier down, which we affectionately call the JBOB, the Joint Acquisition Business Oversight Board, one tier down from the senior leaders to make things happen.
We're not naive to believe that we live in a stovepipe in the acquisition community, so we've also invited and we have participated in the CIO, the CFO, as well as other components as necessary to help support our decision making as we try to move forward with the transformation.
Mr. Lawrence: You've described the governance structure that allows you to work with other parts of the organization, but let me ask you more about the management process. How do you go about collaborating with the folks like the CFO and the CIO?
Mr. Krzysko: We participate with the CFO, the CIO in their forums, as well as inviting them to our forums. I use the technical term of "managing in the middle," because you have to move to the middle of many of these initiatives because they are either technological or they're financial or they're acquisition so you have to bring the bodies together. Frankly, it's about putting yourself in that space to participate, to represent yourself and represent the interests of the Department and your business line as you move forward. If you could do that, you could find the correct balance between financial goals, technical goals, as well as acquisition goals to come out with a workable solution that you can implement very quickly.
Mr. Lawrence: What are some best practices or some lessons learned from actually going about and making that work?
Mr. Krzysko: Participate, participate, participate. It takes a lot of time, it takes a lot of energy to move forward in that. We moved out our business lane into many of those lanes whether it be in CFO forums or CIO forums or logistics forums to help and assist and bring our value from our side and bring our perspective so we could maintain a balance across the Department. Personally, I view that as one of the most critical aspects for success for any initiative. Oftentimes we forget what we need to go do when we become so focused on solutions that without that balance they fall short in many aspects because we failed to consider some of the important things that need to be considered from other viewpoints.
Mr. Lawrence: What are some of the other management challenges in trying to make the collaboration you described work?
Mr. Krzysko: It becomes a function of time. We have a very small staff within the Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy e-Business Group, and they're very hard worked and participating in all those forums. Very early on when we were first standing up the office about a year and a half ago, we listed all the actions and forums and things we needed to participate in, and we listed eight, and the first challenge was what do we take off our plate, what do we go do? And the answer was "nothing," because everything was critically important, and my staff have been critically important in moving forward in each one of those lanes because as best we could you need to participate to make the difference, and we linked that back to it is important for us to execute our jobs in the most reasonable fashion, because we are trying to make a difference and transform the acquisition procurement community, because it is so critical to supporting the war fighter. We see that on the news every day, so that is a backdrop. It becomes our mantra to move forward.
Mr. Lawrence: Are the knowledge and skills of the employees changing? For example, as you're describing the collaboration, you're going through, I imagine sitting in my silo only having to be a specialist in my area. Now at any one moment I'm working with the CIO and the CFO and I'm going to have know a much broader range of information and, you know, capabilities. I'm curious, sir, are the employees changing the way I'm describing?
Mr. Krzysko: Certainly on our team, I think we have. I think we need to permeate that throughout the organization as we move to a more enterprise view of business processes. You have to be sensitive to financial opinions. You have to be sensitive to technological opinions. We get criticized a lot because sometimes we go in too far into those lanes and speak different languages from an IT perspective or from a CFO perspective, but you have to understand that to understand the trades and the points of view of others. And it's critically important that those skill sets are there. With the staff it is difficult for them because we joke, we find few people in those lanes, and they work through that. The come from it from a program management or a contracting background or an acquisition background. They really need to kluge all those skills together and understand the disciplines and why people are so concerned about business processes from their perspective. Bringing all them together is a difficult task, and it represents actually a promise for many of the employees because they love the dynamic because it's a continual learning environment and they can try to make a difference and learn more while they go.
Mr. Lawrence: That's very interesting, especially about the collaboration.
One of the biggest management challenges of any organization is dealing with the functional silos that exist. How are those being addressed in DoD? We'll ask Mark Krzysko for his perspective when The Business of Government Hour continues.
Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, and this morning's conversation is with Mark Krzysko. Mark is the Deputy Director of Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy e Business in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition Technology and Logistics.
And joining us in our conversation is Linda Marshall.
Ms. Marshall: Mark, can you describe the process of developing a solution that was started within the Defense Department and then transferred to the civilian sector?
Mr. Krzysko: We've had a lot of solutions that have been transferred to the civilian sector, and it's principally under the integrated acquisition environment in the lane of procurement. A few of them that come to mind are the Central Contract Registry, CCR; the Past Performance System. We've also had FEDTEDS move up to a federal to provide services to that environment. Mark Foreman, when he was here, initiated the Quick Silver to try to find the low hanging fruit of initiatives that we could deploy federallywide. The Department had a few of them, and we were able to elevate them up and work them in the integrated acquisition environment.
Ms. Marshall: Is the federal technical data solution, commonly called FEDTEDS, a good example of this? You mentioned that.
Mr. Krzysko: Yes, FEDTEDS is a great example of that. FEDTEDS was developed out of the Air Force out of the Logistics Center. We found post-9/11 that the solution when we would put solicitations out on the street for bid, that information that we were putting out on the web was sensitive but not unclassified. We would have drawings of the Hoover Dam. We would have drawings of security systems that we wanted industry to provide solutions for. And we realized all of a sudden it was on an protected environment. Very quickly in the Department, what we initiated was to move that forward to protect that information, to control who and when they received that so we would understand who was getting that level of information on security.
The Department of Homeland Security was the first to pickup on this, and they tremendously led the effort in deploying it within the Department of Homeland Security. Since then, we've also extended that all the way through local governments in terms of New York City is employing that solution set. So, there we found a solution that was very small and very home-grown within the Department at the Air Force that could fill a capability gap within the procurement community very quickly and deploy nationally, and we're working on implementing that throughout the federal government now.
Mr. Lawrence: I understand the Department wants to organize the strategic acquisition at enterprise level and not a single system or component. Could you explain to our listeners what you mean by the enterprise level and why this is important?
Mr. Krzysko: Well, I think we need to recognize first that an enterprise level, what that really means, because in many cases in procurement it's what we spend our money on. We talked earlier about the magnitude of the money, and we have a tremendous amount of people that want insight as to what we spend our money on whether it's transparency for the citizen, whether it's transparency for the management of that, whether it's for the oversight communities to understand how and where we spend the money. It's critical information for the individual to understand where they're buying and what they are buying.
I have two good examples at an enterprise level that I think will crystallize this. One is we've initiated a spend analysis pilot within the Department of Defense. Based upon existing infrastructure, we're going to pilot the capability of pulling enterprise spend data from systems that are currently in place. The Army has the lead for us. The Air Force and the Navy are partnering on that to move forward and pull spend data.
Another initiative comes out of the federal solution side, out of the integrated acquisition environment. It's the federal procurement data system next generation. We are required to report all our contractual data to a system. In the past we would report it to the first generation FBDS, but this directly would move all of our business systems at an enterprise level so that a federal level we would understand who and what is spending their money on, and it would all be located in one system. It's critically important for us in the Department to do that. It's important for us in the federal sector to do that. But it's difficult to manage the transition because the technical infrastructure in the systems supporting those. When you establish single points, you have to actively manage the transition to those systems, and it's important for us to remember that it is not easy.
Ms. Marshall: What processes do you have to eliminate silos of information that may have existed, and also how does the department manager cross these processes or systems?
Mr. Krzysko: Well, silos of information we generally find that they come based upon the solutions and the technical infrastructure that's out there. We've created them because of our technological implementations. I really have a three-step process of how to think about that, and the first step of that is understanding what the process is and understanding what the business process, what the data and the information are. The way we're manifesting that in eliminating the silos is developing an enterprise architecture. Once you develop an enterprise architecture you've really managed yourself to the direction of where you want to go because you've settled on a process, you've settled on data; you've settled on the information that's needed. The next step is to assess the infrastructure and see what systems are meeting that architecture, because that will help eliminate the silos.
Eliminating the silos in and of itself is not the answer. You have to have a structure and disciplined approach because from assessing where your infrastructure is, you begin to transition your systems. In transitioning your systems, you decide whether you're going to retain them, retire them, refresh them, fix them. And you need to move forward in that lane.
We can realize, in many cases and that may sound like a long-term project but it doesn't have to be quite as long term as some would like us to believe you can realize quickly where you can implement technologies to homogenize the data, so to speak, now, but ultimately you want to have fewer, more capable systems and develop your transition plan off of that.
Mr. Lawrence: What performance metrics are you using to see how you're doing compared to those steps?
Mr. Krzysko: When I think of performance metrics at the highest level, it's always about saving time and saving money, and if you can't demonstrate that, you really don't have performance metrics. We think of it in three lanes. I think, one, we measure ourselves to see how well we're doing in terms of developing our business process, our data models, our transition plans and are we doing what we said we would do on time. We also need to assess the services and components and help them realize the transitions that they're trying to measure. So, you need to measure their progression to how well they're doing and how fast they are achieving their transformation goals because they are the supporting infrastructure by and large that are transitioning in support of us.
And, finally, you have to measure it at a process level. We need to move faster in terms of how we measure process, but we need to be careful to look at it in an enterprise level, just not at a typical segment of business. A good example of that in the past we used to measure procurement action lead time, and that would be from the moment you had a procurement request generated to the moment you executed. Oftentimes we wouldn't enter into the procurement request till we were ready to execute, so the metric always looked good, but did we really achieve the savings. You have to take a holistic measure and you have to measure as we mature, because we're not all there yet, so you have to keep moving forward and measuring yourself, measuring the process, and ultimately measuring what your technological footprint looks like. Fewer systems are, by and large, better because of the technological footprint and you can save yourself time and money.
We measured this and we had some very quick wins in the acquisition domain within our community because we were the first to step up. We moved FEDTEDS to the federal arena and didn't have a DoDTEDS anymore so we didn't need that capability internally. And we also retired the feeder system to FedBizOps. We had the Department of Defense Federal Business Opportunity system. We took that system down very early on.
I mentioned the Federal Procurement Data System. Moving to that, the measurement there culminates in two things. By our move to passing procurement data from our procurement systems to FBDS, the next generation, we not only will retire five business systems we had five feeder systems within the Department of Defense but we also business process reengineered the process because the contracting officers or the contract specialists would be passing the direct data from their contract award directly to FDBS, thus eliminating all the oversight and all the data movement within the Department. So, there you could see you measured the business process reengineered while we were reducing our technological footprint.
Ms. Marshall: Mark, I'm going to switch gears on you for a minute if you don't mind. I know your office is committed to integrating not just systems and technology but the people in the processes as well. Can you tell us why focusing on the people to achieve this vision of transformation at DoD is an important issue and what the main obstacles of achieving this are?
Mr. Krzysko: The main obstacles of achieving that and I'd like to I think you have to take all three. It's not that we solely focus on the people. You have to focus on technology, the process, the policy, the people all at the same time. Too often in the past we only focused on one, the technological aspects or the process aspects or just the people aspects. Taking as an entity, you can manage change faster if you accommodate for all three because technological solutions are not people and you need all things to change in the same fashion. The obstacles of that are principally communicative.
You need to get the communication out to the people of understanding what's changing from the technology or process perspective so you can lead them and teach them where we're going as a community. Moving as a community, the obstacles generally are that we can't reach everybody fast enough, and as the environment moves faster we will be challenged in the future to getting information out to the people to understand how the transition's occurring, what are we changing in terms of what systems we have providing solutions; how did we reengineer the process; how did we change the policy. Within the Office of Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy, one of the things is that when we change, we get to the people and change them and inform that what we did, why we did it, and how we can help them complete their transformation.
Mr. Lawrence: Interesting, especially the integration.
Rejoin us in a few minutes when we continue our conversation with our guest, Mark Krzysko, of DoD.
Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, and this morning's conversation is with Mark Krzysko. Mark is the Deputy Director of Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy e Business in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition Technology and Logistics.
And joining us in our conversation is Linda Marshall.
Ms. Marshall: Mark, how do you envision the Department conducting business with private contractors, including small companies as well as the large corporations?
Mr. Krzysko: Well, Linda, there's really two parts to that question. There's one, and everybody always wants to know how to do business with the government, and in the Department of Defense, one of the services that is offered is procurement technical assistant centers that help industry understand how to do business with the federal government. It's partially funded by the DoD, and I've participated in many forums where they help very locally of understanding how to do business, what steps you need to do, how you should prepare yourself to do business with federal government. But within the e-business world, there are also solution sets that directly tie to industry. Federal business opportunities, the single point of entry to understand what business opportunities exist in the federal government.
We have the Central Contract Registry where industry can register and must register to do business with the federal government. That's to ensure that they can get paid on time and that they could do business with us.
We have a new initiative out there, online reps and certs. We require representations and certs and a new tool is being stood up that industry can do that once and apply that to all the procurements, and that's being deployed now.
Finally, there's a solution within the Department of Defense that we're trying to permeate throughout the Department of Defense, and it's called Wide Area Workflow Receipt and Acceptance, and it's our intention to have that as the single invoicing point to the Department of Defense and hopefully at some point, maybe at the federal level, as a solution for how to take invoices from both the major contractors as well as small contractors. It's a web-based tool that will allow them to get paid and go through our processes faster and more efficiently.
Ms. Marshall: Can you tell us about your current relationship and future plans with the Defense Acquisition University?
Mr. Krzysko: Our current relationship with DAU is actually a great relationship. My former deputy for a year, Dr. Jim McMichael, has moved back to DAU and we have a great relationship working together, and I talked earlier about how people are so important. In our training, we need to realize that we need to train for the future here, and training is not just a component of how to do something but how we need to strategically think, how we need to move forward as a community. So, we need to train different skills. Any business that's not only training them on the system solutions but how to do business. Our goal is to become strategic acquirers or business brokers. So, what do you need to train individuals to do in the acquisition profession?
We're working with DAU to influence the curricula as it's developed. I participate monthly in one of our senior contract courses and go down and talk about e-business in everything we're doing. We really need to touch the people and tell them why and where we're going and what's going to affect them. So, we've had a great relationship with DAU and that will mature as we move on.
Ms. Marshall: What will the modernization of the DoD's acquisition process look like 5 to 10 years from now?
Mr. Krzysko: I think as technology solutions become more evident and we realize web-based services, we will be interconnected to work through the environment. Our acquisition process will be perfectly transparent to the entire community from the citizens all the way through the people doing the business. We'll be able to do business anywhere in the world. We will be able to connect with industry in a very efficient fashion. Not all the services of the technologies will be based within our home-grown organization. We will rely in a service-based architecture of others that provide those services, whether it's industry or whether it's someone else that interconnects, because as we realize the acquisition process and the data and what we need, we can better interconnect to cross that environment. The contracting officers will be able to work from their homes and supply the goods and services in the future.
Ms. Marshall: You mentioned strategic acquirers a few minutes ago. Can you explain to us what you mean by that?
Mr. Krzysko: Yeah, that's another great question. The strategic acquiring we sat down at one point and analyzed the skill sets of what a strategic acquirer would be and what that is. Much of that is found in data. We've realized that our environment is changing very rapidly. We're no longer local. We're global. We're no longer buying for someone down the hall, we're buying for someone across the world. We've realized that technology systems are not our own local systems. It's someplace else. We've realized that we need to work across teams and with teams. There's a variety of skill sets and services we provide, whether we buy them from GSA or get our goods and services through their instruments or contracting instruments or whether we buy them through ourselves. It is a global environment, but the real core of strategic acquiring is in realizing the information, and that's information at our desktop level which will help us make better decisions, that ultimately flow up to management decisions where they can, too, in turn make better decisions.
Mr. Lawrence: You had a significant career in the private sector, then you came to the public sector and you've been there ever since, and I'm curious, what advice would you have for somebody interested in a career or joining the public sector?
Mr. Krzysko: I have found I have been with the public sector for 13 years now. I have found it the most exciting place that I have ever worked, and I wouldn't have traded it for the world. It's given me the opportunity to make a difference, not only for myself but for the federal government to move forward. I've found that I have been empowered and working in cross-discipline opportunities, which I may have not otherwise had in the private sector. It's a very exciting time, and you can feel like you contribute very early on in your career. The training has been great, the environment, the people have been great. It is just a tremendous place to work and drive change home. The advice is to manage what you do. Do it well. Get good grades. Be sure you come with skill sets, and we can help make you better and apply those skills very quickly within the federal government to make a difference in a large scale.
Mr. Lawrence: Well, that'll have to be our last question, Mark. Linda and I want to thank you for being with us this morning.
Mr. Krzysko: Okay, thank you. It's been a pleasure to be here. One of the things I'd like to mention is we are up on the web in all of our information. We try to connect, so those who want to understand what systems are out there, what we're trying to achieve, our website is www.acq.osd.mil/dpap/ebiz/. It's the e business single point of entry and we're working on connecting it so everyone can understand what we're trying to achieve.
Mr. Lawrence: Thank you, Mark.
Mr. Krzysko: Thank you.
Mr. Lawrence: This has been The Business of Government Hour, featuring a conversation with Mark Krzysko, Deputy Director of Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy e-Business in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition Technology and Logistics.
Be sure and visit us on the web at businesofgovernment.org. There, you can learn more about our programs and research into new approaches to improving government effectiveness, and you can also get a transcript of today's very interesting conversation. Once again, that's businessofgovernment.org.
This is Paul Lawrence. Thank you for listening.