Report: DoD needs to take action to promote collaboration


One of the provisions in the 2017 National Defense Authorization act required the Department of Defense to increase collaboration across the board. The U.S Government Accountability Office reviewed the Pentagon’s cross-functional teams, and released a report indicating that they need improvement.

“We did have a chance to look at a draft of the strategy, and we found a few things. One, it does contain the required elements. It articulates where cross-functional teams will be useful at the department, and also how they will be operated,” said Elizabeth Field, acting director for Defense Capabilities & Management Issues at GAO. “But the strategy kind of missed the boat in terms of articulating how these cross-functional teams will develop a culture at the department that is more collaborative, about being results oriented and team oriented which is really what this provision is all about.”

The report also looked at management of the cross-functional teams, and found some issues.

“One of the requirements in the provision is that use of the cross-functional teams is designed to help the department better manage relationships among key officials and key components of the department.” Field told Government Matters. “However, we learned that the office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer, which no longer exists, was responsible for this. They had not shared or vetted their draft organizational strategy with the office of the Secretary of Defense, with combat and commands, the defense agencies for field activities, the military departments. We have a recommendation in this most recent report that they need a strategy.”

Field says that despite these errors, the Defense Department has made strides towards attaining their collaborative goals.

“They have made a lot of progress, and one of the nice things about GAO being required to look at this every 6 months, is that it’s really an ongoing conversation between us and the department. We can offer our thoughts on how their draft guidance or strategy could be improved.”