Reference Number: No. 238-97

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Secretary of Defense William Cohen announced today the establishment of a Task Force on Defense Reform to find ways to improve the organization and procedures in the Department. The task force, which was formed as a result of the nearly completed Quadrennial Defense Review, will recommend organizational reforms, reductions in management overhead and streamlined business practices in the Department, with emphasis on the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Defense Agencies, DOD field activities and the military departments. The streamlining is in line with Vice President Gore's efforts to reinvent government.

The reform task force will function under the auspices of John Hamre, the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller).

One goal is to eliminate unneeded organizations, functions and personnel. “We have a multiplicity of agencies, and the question is: Can we operate more efficiently?” Cohen said.

“The Quadrennial Defense Review is an exhaustive examination of the Department's defense programs,” said Cohen. It will help guide defense into the next century. However, there was not sufficient time for the QDR to study significant reforms in major areas of my personal focus, particularly the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Defense Agencies, DOD field activities, and the military departments. A more thorough examination of these areas is needed given the complexity and size of the task.”

Reporting through Hamre, task force members are Michael J. Bayer, a Consultant in Business-government relations who served as an official in both the Energy and Commerce Departments; David Chu, Director of RAND's Washington office and former DOD Director of Program Analysis and Evaluation; Rhett Dawson, President, Information Technology Industry Council; James Locher, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-intensity Conflict; Arnold Punaro, Senior Vice President for Corporate Development at Science Applications International Corporation and former Staff Director of the Senate Armed Services Committee; Kim Wincup, a Program Director at Science Applications International Corp. and a former Assistant Secretary of the Army, and Dov Zakheim, Corporate Vice President and Director, Center for Policy Planning, System Planning Corporation and Chief Executive Officer, SPC International and former Deputy under Secretary of Defense for planning and resources. Cohen said that several other members may be named.


Areas of primary focus for the task force include:

“Over the past decade, the American commercial sector has reorganized, restructured, and adopted revolutionary new business and management practices in order to assure its competitive edge in the rapidly changing global marketplace. Now the Department must adopt and adapt the lessons of the private sector so our armed forces can maintain their competitive edge in the rapidly changing global security market,” said Secretary Cohen.

The Task Force on Defense Reform will seek the advice and assistance of business executives who have helped streamline their corporations in recent years.

Since early in the Clinton administration, Vice President Gore has been leading the National Performance Review, a widespread effort to clear government of useless bureaucracy and waste and free it from red tape and senseless rules.

The Task Force on Defense Reform will work closely with the National Defense Panel, the independent, Congressionally-mandated review board that will assess the QDR, and with the Vice President's National Performance Review. The task force will report its findings and recommendations to Secretary Cohen by November 30.


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