Friday, February 16, 2018

Management Practices at DoD Do Not Align Well With Best Practices at Commercial Organizations

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) was requested by Congress to review the career paths, development, and incentives for program managers responsible for delivering DoD's most expensive new weapon systems. Congress noted that DoD major acquisition programs continue to experience cost and schedule overruns and previous studies have concluded that selecting skilled program managers is a key factor to achieving successful program outcomes.

To perform this study, GAO identified leading practices documented in prior work and by the Project Management Institute, and interviewed commercial companies identified by the Institute as leaders in this field. Those companies included AstraZeneca (biopharmaceuticals), Boeing (aerospace), DXC Technology (information technology) and Rio Tinto (mining).

GAO found that leading organizations use 10 key practices to train, mentor, retain, and ultimately select skilled program managers. GAO then compared these practices with practices in place at the Air Force, Army and Navy and found that a lot of the Service's practices did not align very well with those in place at leading commercial organization.

Four leading practices where the military services aligned very well with industry include:

  • Training classes that allow program managers to share experiences
  • On-the-job learning and information repositories
  • Recognition
  • Assignment based on skills, experiences, and program needs

Five leading practices where the services did not align extensively include:

  • Rotational assignments
  • Mentoring programs with senior leader involvement
  • Career paths that describe skills needed to advance
  • Education subsidies
  • Identification of high-potential talent by senior leaders

Finally, the 10th leading practice where the military services did not align at all include:

  • Financial rewards for good performance

GAO made eight recommendations, all fitting under the emphasis of "do more with the resources already available". DoD concurred.

You can read the entire GAO report here.

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