Protection Enterprise Board chair Deborah Lee James, on serving to Pentagon see ‘forest for the bushes’


WASHINGTON — Flat protection budgets could also be looming. The army’s focus is shifting away from the Center East to China and Russia. And payments on every thing from modernization to AI to the nuclear enterprise are coming due.

With that mixture of high-stakes missions and monetary pressures on the horizon, the Pentagon has by no means been in better want of the Protection Enterprise Board’s recommendation, new chairwoman Deborah Lee James stated.

“Typically within the authorities, you possibly can’t see the forest for the bushes, and also you don’t know what you don’t know,” stated James, who served as President Barack Obama’s Air Pressure secretary from 2013 to 2017 and beforehand was a high government at SAIC. “So bringing in exterior advisers is usually a useful new perspective.”

The board is made up of executives from the non-public sector — some, although not all, with army expertise — who advise high Protection Division leaders on methods to assist the division be taught some classes from how enterprise operates, similar to how one can reduce prices or make it run extra easily.

Since 2002, the board has produced about 80 reviews on matters starting from a take a look at the army’s retirement program that helped result in the creation of the blended retirement system to a advice to eradicate the DoD’s workplace of the chief administration officer.

If DoD doesn’t sustain with innovation and stay keen to take prudent dangers, James stated, it may fall behind its rivals and lose its benefit. She hopes the board might help.

James was sworn in to guide the board Sept. 14, changing into its first feminine chair in its practically two-decade historical past. With the 17 folks nominated to be members, together with seven ladies and 9 folks of colour, James believes will probably be essentially the most various board so far — and she or he plans to make use of that to her benefit.

James spoke with Protection Information Oct. 15. The interview has been edited for area and readability.

How do the members of the Protection Enterprise Board research points and discover methods to suggest they higher function?

We will probably be doing research and looking out into totally different issues particularly at [Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks’] request. Research will fall into three primary buckets.

One bucket is what I’ll name transformations. This could be concepts and areas that might actually transfer the needle in some essential approach. One other bucket or matter space is enterprise processes basically. There’s clearly the conflict fighters, after which there may be everybody else who’s supporting the conflict fighters, and there are alternative ways of organizing these. After which the third space is expertise. So there we have now our civilian personnel, our army personnel, typically there’s mismatches in expertise. There’s quite a lot of matters centered on expertise.

Proper out of the chute, one research that Congress requested the Protection Enterprise Board to do is the mentor-protégé program. Is this system working as it’s meant, is it delivering outcomes or not, and the way ought to we modify it?

The mentor-protégé program is a program wherein giant corporations — assume your Lockheed [Martin]s, assume your SAICs — are given monetary incentives to work with small, deprived companies. The concept is to assist mentor them in sure methods, and to assist in giving them a lift in order that they are often thriving companies going ahead.


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