The Government Accountability Office (GAO) last week issued recommendations on how the Department of Defense (DoD) can better go about implementing the position of Chief Management Officer (CMO) – a position that took ten years to fill with a confirmed appointment after it was approved by Congress in 2008.

The agency’s first CMO – John “Jay” Gibson – resigned in November 2018, after having served in the role for less than a year. Lisa Hershman is currently acting CMO.

The DoD has taken steps to implement the CMO position, the GAO report states, but it still has to address three key issues that have impeded the full institutionalization of the CMO’s authorities. According to GAO:

First, the DoD hasn’t addressed the CMO’s authority to direct secretaries of military departments on business reform. When there is disagreement over these business reform issues the CMO has the responsibility to exercise authority, but the DoD hasn’t determined how, specifically.

Second, the CMO’s oversight responsibilities of Defense Agencies and DoD Field Activities (DAFAs) hasn’t been addressed. DAFAs that provide shared business services are supposed to be under the responsibility and direction of the newly-created CMO position. The DoD hasn’t yet determined how the CMO will exercise this authority over DAFAs.

And lastly, the CMO is supposed to inherit the responsibilities relating to business systems and management formerly belonging to the chief information officer (CIO). The DoD hasn’t yet determined which responsibilities will transfer, if any.

According to GAO, the DoD has acknowledged that it lacks guidance on the CMO’s responsibilities and authorities, while also agreeing with four recommendations made by GAO, including that the Secretary of Defense ensure that the CMO and CIO analyze which responsibilities should transfer from the CIO to the CMO.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.