RAND Symposium on PPBS Attracts High-Level DoD Crowd

A current under secretary of defense, two former under secretaries, and a former assistant secretary were among a host of high-level Department of Defense (DoD) attendees at a recent RAND symposium that explored the DoD's Planning, Programming, and Budgeting System (PPBS).

Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (and former RAND Vice President) David Chu; former Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology (and current RAND Trustee) Paul Kaminski; former Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) Willam Lynn; and former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Threat Reduction Ted Warner joined about 25 other current and former defense policymakers at a day-and-a-half session at RAND Washington on January 23-24, 2002.

The symposium involved DoD policymakers, outsiders, and RAND staff in wide-ranging discussions about the history and evolution of PPBS, its role in today's defense and budget environments, steps the DoD might take to improve it, and its utility in the war against terrorism. Other attendees included Mike Wynne, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (and co-chairman of the NDRI Advisory Board); Robert Soule, former Director, Program Analysis and Evaluation; and Robert Murray, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Center for Naval Analysis.

PPBS dates back to the 1960s, when Secretary Robert McNamara established it as a formal part of fiscal management within the Pentagon. PPBS is a system that helps the Secretary of Defense make choices about allocating resources among competing programs to accomplish specific national defense objectives. Its ultimate goal is to provide operational commanders with the best mix of forces, equipment, and support attainable within fiscal constraints.

PPBS was put in place by former RAND staff member Charles Hitch, who served as Assistant Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) under McNamara. While at RAND in the late 1950s, Hitch and fellow RAND analyst Alain Enthoven did much of the foundation work underlying PPBS.

After welcoming remarks from NSRD Vice President and NDRI Director Jeff Isaacson, conference attendees heard presentations and roundtable discussions from invited guests and RAND analysts. Topics included PPBS in the context of homeland security, counterterrorism, and force protection.