FORT BELVOIR, Va. (Aug. 3, 2017) — DOD on Tuesday released its plan for restructuring the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (USD(AT&L), envisioning two smaller organizations—an undersecretary of defense for research and engineering (USD(R&E)) “to drive innovation and accelerate the advancement of our warfighting capability” and an undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment (USD(A&S)) “to deliver proven technology into the hands of the warfighter more quickly and affordably.”
The reorganization, part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2017, must be implemented by Feb. 1, 2018. However, the plan could be changed by Congress.
The restructuring also would elevate the DOD’s deputy chief management officer into the chief management officer, also in accordance with the FY17 NDAA, to improve the quality and productivity of DOD business operations.
The focus of the USD(R&E) would be on closing the gap on current and emerging threats and on driving the disruptive innovation. The USD(A&S) would focus on major defense program performance and on reducing life cycle costs to free up resources for further investment. “In both cases,” according to the plan, “the new organization should achieve its objective by breaking down barriers to execution and reducing layers of oversight and unnecessary process imposed upon the Services.”
The goal of the USD(R&E) is to set the DOD’s technology policy; to solve critical technical warfighting challenges; and to deliver technology solutions easier. The USD(R&E) would have five direct reports:
- The Defense Science Board.
- The Missile Defense Agency.
- A new unit, the Strategic Intelligence Analysis Cell, which would steer investments toward the most urgent technology needs and opportunities.
- The assistant secretary of defense for research and technology (ASD(R&T)).
- The assistant secretary of defense for advanced capabilities (ASD(AC)).
- The Strategic Intelligence Analysis Cell would “focus on understanding the enemy’s capabilities and vulnerabilities, conducting analysis on our own U.S. capabilities, tracking technology trends across the globe and assessing potential/emerging threats and/or future opportunities that warrant action, that merit investment.”
The ASD(R&T) would “set the strategic technical direction and subsequent investment strategy for the Department that will ensure technical dominance on the battlefield. This ASD will be responsible for integrating the DOD laboratory infrastructure and stewardship of the technical community that focuses on research to ensure Warfighter dominance.” Reporting to the ASD(R&T) would be the deputy assistant secretary of defense (DASD) for research and technology investments; the DASD for laboratories and personnel; and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
The ASD(AC) would “conduct prototyping and experimentation to increase understanding of technology and its impact on warfighting capability. This ASD will be focused on driving down technical risk, gaining warfighter feedback to better inform requirements, and ensuring that concepts going forward into acquisition not only provide the needed capability, but are timely and affordable.” It will oversee the DASD for mission engineering and integration; the DASD for prototyping and experimentation; the Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) and the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx).
While DARPA, SCO and DIUx would fall under the ASDs, the plan states that “final reporting relationships will be determined by USD(R&E).” SCO and DIUx currently report directly to Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.
In describing the relationship between the USDs, the plan says the “USD(R&E) will take risks while pushing the technology ‘envelope’ … and being willing and allowed to fail when appropriate.” Once the technology has been identified and matured, the “USD(A&S) will minimize further risk, as necessary to ensure the needed capability is delivered and sustained in the most timely and cost-effective manner possible.”
Regarding a congressional requirement to cut headquarters staff by 25 percent, the plan says DOD’s “intent is to execute this reorganization AND achieve” the reductions, acknowledging that further adjustments may be needed.