Supporting Efforts to Reform Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution (PPBE)

The American flag hangs over the side of the Pentagon to remember lives lost during the 9/11 attack.

A U.S. flag hangs over the side of the Pentagon to remember lives lost during the 9/11 attack.

Photo by Alexander Kubitza/U.S. Department of Defense

The U.S. national security community faces a rise in global threats and a rapidly changing technological environment that offers both challenges and opportunities for the future fight. Adversaries and competitors are contesting the United States’ traditional edge in innovation, agility, global power projection, and ability to shape the strategic environment. To stay competitive, the United States must be able to engage with industry, harness technological advances, and field new capabilities with unaccustomed speed and flexibility—and to do so within ever-tightening budget constraints.

The U.S. Department of Defense's (DoD's) Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution (PPBE) System was originally developed in the 1960s as a structured approach for planning long-term resource development, assessing program cost-effectiveness, and aligning resources to strategies. Yet changes to the strategic environment, the industrial base, and the nature of military capabilities have raised the question of whether existing U.S. defense budgeting processes remain well aligned with national security needs.

In response, Congress called for the establishment of the Commission on PPBE Reform. As part of its data collection efforts, the commission asked RAND Corporation researchers to conduct case studies of budgeting processes across nine comparative organizations: five international defense organizations and four U.S. federal government agencies. Congress also specifically requested two case studies of near-peer competitors, and the research team selected the other seven cases in close partnership with the commission. This site collects the findings from the RAND project in three volumes, plus an executive summary.

RAND's Findings on PPBE Reform

In Their Own Words

  • Reforming DoD’s Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution Process for a Competitive Future

    Congress, the Department of Defense, and other key stakeholders are working on once-in-a-generation changes to the planning, programming, budgeting, and execution (PPBE) process to foster greater speed, agility, and innovation. Watch guests, including former secretary of defense Chuck Hagel and chair of the PPBE Reform Commission Bob Hale, discuss PPBE reform during this video from a recent RAND event.

    Feb 8, 2024

In the News

  • Reform the Budget Process to Strengthen U.S. Global Leadership

    As the U.S. government confronts two near-peer challengers in China and Russia, along with mounting conflict in the Middle East, ensuring stability, predictability, and some measure of flexibility in the U.S. defense budget is more important than ever. Yet the U.S. budgeting system is in a state of disarray.

    Feb 7, 2024