Anybody working in the Defense Planning, Programming, Budgeting and Execution (PPBE) process is likely aware of the Commission on PPBE Reform, established by the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2022. The commission is studying how effectively the U.S. military can field emerging technologies and keep pace with strategic competitors like China, given the constraints of the current PPBE process.
In a press release issued October 12, 2022, early in the commission’s work, Hon. Ellen Lord, commission vice chair said, “The commission has an incredible opportunity to scale and tailor the PPBE process to match the pace of innovation in order to accelerate capability to the warfighter. While the commission has not made decisions about issues and recommendations, I expect we will consider major issues that affect both our economic and national security, including the needed agility to adapt acquisition programs to changing requirements, particularly for programs leveraging rapidly developing technologies.”
The current PPBE process, established in the 1960s when we were fighting a very different enemy, is anything but agile. Its four interrelated phases were designed to effectively identify and acquire the most effective mix of forces, equipment, manpower, and support to allow DoD to achieve its mission. Largely unchanged since its inception, the PPBE process generally takes more than two years to complete. The existing system doesn’t allow for pivots and is slow to adapt to emerging technologies.
To accomplish its mission, Congress gave the commission three tasks:
Comprehensively assess the efficacy and efficiency of all phases and aspects of the PPBE process, especially related to modernization.
Compare the Defense PPBE process with similar processes of private industry, other federal agencies, and other countries to maximize DoD’s ability to respond to threats quickly.
Develop and propose recommendations to field capabilities to outpace near-peer competitors, provide insight, and align the PPBE process to strategic defense objectives.
The commission will present the results of its investigation in two reports, an interim report to be delivered in August 2023 and a final report in March 2024.
To date, the commission has conducted numerous interviews with individuals from Congress, DoD, private industry, researchers from federally funded research and development centers, and academia. In a recently published update on these interviews, the commission noted the following concerns about innovation had been identified with the current PPBE process:
The PPBE process functions well for acquiring and funding large-scale systems such as aircraft, tanks, ships, and submarines but is less suitable for supporting new technologies, such as software and artificial intelligence.
Efforts to engage in long-range planning impede innovation by effectively lock in funding years in advance.
There are too few opportunities to obtain new, innovative technologies that do not fit into program stovepipes because budgets start being built over two years in advance.
The rigid PPBE timeline prevents non-traditional companies from sharing their knowledge and products with DoD during the acquisition process.
DoD focuses too much on hardware and large acquisition programs instead of looking for ways to incorporate more innovative, non-traditional products, and technologies into the existing system.
With our focus on innovation, LMI is ideally situated to take on any changes to the process that the commission may recommend. With a proven track record supporting DoD and a keen focus on innovative solutions, LMI brings experience and expertise uniquely designed for a new agile PPBE process. We combine our deep bench of certified financial management PPBE experts with the many tools available through LMI’s Forge™ to offer our customers fast delivery of high-quality and sophisticated technical solutions. As trusted providers of Innovation at the Pace of Need™, LMI stands ready to adapt PPBE processes to support the future of DoD and other federal agencies’ missions.
For more information on PPBE capabilities, tools, and expertise at LMI, contact our Resource Management Practice Area Lead, Charles Casserly.