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DOD acquisition reform just the first step to a more efficient agency


September 23, 2010 - 0 Comments

The ongoing economic downturn has led to many households tightening their belts, cutting back on their spending and evaluating their expenditures. Simultaneously, the federal government was implementing stimulus programs designed to kick-start the economy, sending large sums of money to local governments and schools struggling to make ends-meet, improving infrastructure and extending unemployment benefits to help impacted families get through these hard times.

While experts can argue endlessly about the government’s programs and the effectiveness of some of the Obama Administration’s initiatives, the end result of all of this spending hasn’t been all positive. The national debt has risen precipitously. Now, the government is looking to cut back, slash budgets and otherwise find ways to reduce our national debt.

One agency that has been under increased scrutiny has been the Department of Defense, which has been spending aggressively to address national security issues that arose following 9/11 and financing simultaneous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently released a 23-point memorandum for reforming the defense acquisition processes. This was done to help reduce government waste, make the process faster and more efficient and overall make the DoD more cost effective.

This reform was definitely necessary. The bureaucratic red tape and vacancies in the acquisition workforce had historically made the process of selling to the DoD lengthy and expensive for companies, who would pass those expenses on to the agency. In addition, overruns and other extraneous expenses were driving up the end cost of projects, many of which were over budget and behind schedule.

The revamping of the DoD’s acquisition process is important, and will lead to long-term savings for the agency, but it’s just one area where they could be operating more effectively and efficiently.

Travel is exceptionally common for civilian employees of the DoD, many of which find themselves traveling between military bases and offices within the country and abroad. The cost of this travel is covered by the agency, and often includes hotel stays, transportation (rail, plane, car, etc.) and a per diem, which covers food and other approved expenses. In fact, there’s an office within the DoD, the Defense Travel Management Office (DTMO), whose entire responsibility it is to manage and oversee commercial travel within the DoD.

As one of the largest cabinet level agencies in the country, you can only imagine the amount of travel dollars that the agency expends each year. However, much of those travel expenses could be eliminated if the agency would further embrace today’s advanced video teleconferencing (VTC) and telepresence solutions instead of relying so heavily on travel.

VTC and telepresence technologies enable individuals who are miles apart to communicate face-to-face, as if they were in the same room. This ensures that individuals and teams can communicate and collaborate naturally without the need to be in the same room.

By embracing VTC and telepresence solutions for meetings, training and events, the DoD could save a significant amount of taxpayer money. Now that’s a significantly more effective and efficient way of governing.

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