Invigorating Defense Governance
March 20, 2008
This report is the final installment in the Beyond Goldwater-Nichols (BG-N) project assessment of defense reform. The report takes a strategic view of defense governance, focusing on the future efforts of the next U.S. secretary of defense and the secretary's senior-most aides to fulfill priority objectives. With so many prior reform efforts on which to build, the BG-N study team sought to identify the key problems inhibiting effective performance in the Department of Defense (DOD) and the barriers to reform that prevented earlier proposals from taking root. It concluded that many proposed changes have faltered because they failed to account for and find ways to alter the likely behavior of individuals and organizations. As Goldwater-Nichols taught, the ability to affect incentive structures is the most indispensable ingredient of any successful reform. Attempts to simply rework organizational wiring diagrams or create new and seemingly more nimble processes will fail unless they are buttressed by changes in the underlying incentives that motivate individual and organizational actions.
Accordingly, this report examines and makes recommendation on: major challenges to defense governance; a defense governance framework; improving strategic direction; furthering capabilities-based approaches; creating accountability; integrating strategy, execution, and assessment; advocating for the future joint force; and improving force development.
Kathleen H. Hicks is a senior fellow in the CSIS International Security Program, where she focuses on U.S. national security strategy, planning, and policy, DOD and interagency reform, and the roles and missions of the U.S. armed forces. Ms. Hicks joined CSIS after 13 years with the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. She is a contributor to Integrating 21st Century Development and Security Assistance (CSIS, 2008) and Global Forecast: The Top Security Challenges of 2008 (CSIS, 2007) and a coauthor of Planning for Stability Operations (CSIS, 2007).