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Leo FitzHarris, Assistant Inspector General for Strategic Planning and Performance at the DoD OIG, discusses top management challenges for the DoD to address in the coming year

The Defense Department Office of Inspector General has a new list of top management challenges for the Pentagon. Leo FitzHarris, Assistant Inspector General for Strategic Planning and Performance at the DoD Office of the Inspector General, spoke with “Government Matters” about the changes to the list.

“The management challenges document itself is an important statement because it’s the Inspector General’s independent assessment of the top performance and management challenges facing DoD,” FitzHarris said. “We assemble this document and identify the challenges through outreach with the Department of Defense, as well as Congress, our oversight partners in the Department, as well as what is of concern to the American people.”

The FY2021 list includes three new challenges. Some of the challenges from previous years were combined. The DoD IG office also identified four enduring legacy challenges.

Transforming data into a strategic asset is one of the new challenges for FY 2021.

“There’s quintillions of bytes of information there generated on a daily basis, and it’s the Department’s priority to make sure that the information that they’re collecting is secured, analyzed and provided to decision-makers in a timely fashion,” FitzHarris said.

Another of the newest top management challenges is building and sustaining the Defense Department’s technological dominance.

“Emerging technologies are going to transform the way the Department of Defense conducts warfare. We know that, and our management challenge outlines … the importance of developing those technologies, implementing them into operations and … securing those technologies from our near-peer competitors,” he said.

The Department of Defense will also prioritize strengthening resiliency to non-traditional threats in the coming year. These threats include a broad range of natural disasters and global trends, such as the melting of sea ice.

“The pandemic is an example of a non-traditional threat to the Department of Defense. It impacts our personnel, our operations … as well as our pipeline of volunteers who are trying to serve in the military,” he said.

FitzHarris said the IG office has seen improvement in management challenges over the last year.

“In terms of financial management, the Department is working very hard on improving internal controls,” he said.

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