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Defense Business Board Previews Presidential Transition

WASHINGTON, Oct. 11, 2016 — In a 112-page report, the Defense Business Board has outlined the issues and tasks that will face Defense Department leaders during the transition after the presidential election in November.

What is the DBB?

Michael Bayer is chairman of the Defense Business Board and president and chief executive officer for Dumbarton Strategies.

As Bayer explained in an email interview with DoD News, the secretary created the board in 2002 to provide the department’s senior leaders with independent and objective advice on proven and effective best business practices for potential application to the department.

Each of the 26 board members, Bayer said, has experience leading or governing large, complex, private-sector corporations or organizations. Their expertise encompasses areas including executive management, corporate governance, audit and finance, human resources, economics, technology and health care, he added.

Transition Priorities and the Deputy Secretary

Bayer noted that DoD is “the largest enterprise in the world,” and a smooth leadership transition is critical to national and global security.

A major tweak to one key DoD leader role, that of the deputy defense secretary, is high on the list of DBB recommendations.

“The DBB is recommending that the deputy secretary of defense’s role be more focused on being the chief management officer, which is normally known in the corporate world as the chief operating officer,” Bayer said. “The current role of being the shadow or backup for the secretary takes valuable time away from the herculean responsibility of managing this huge enterprise.”

Beating the Drums on Overhead Costs

Another suggestion the report contains is one the DBB has made repeatedly, Bayer said: contain overhead costs.

“It is the collective view of the DBB that excessive bureaucracy inhibits rapid decision making, at a time when speed is essential in a world of emerging peers,” he said. “It also adds cost, with resources that could be better aligned to readiness and warfighting.”

Prepping for a New Administration

Given the fluidity of the global security scene and the extreme importance of national defense, Bayer said, “It is imperative that the department’s leaders are ready to begin work on inauguration day.”

The DBB report lists other areas of emphasis for the incoming president’s transition team: high-quality personnel recommendations for the new president, a strong orientation program for those selected for appointment, skilled confirmation preparation for appointees, clear policy direction for the incoming team and alignment of the overall senior leadership.

“All [are] vital to the successful beginnings of a new administration, and the longer-term operation of the department,” Bayer said.

He noted the DBB also offers incoming leaders “a wealth of other insights the board has produced over the years of relevance to any new senior leaders coming to the department.”
Distribution channels: Military