Cover: Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution in Comparative Organizations

Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution in Comparative Organizations

Volume 3, Case Studies of Selected Non-DoD Federal Agencies

Published Jan 23, 2024

by Megan McKernan, Stephanie Young, Ryan Consaul, Michael Simpson, Sarah W. Denton, Anthony Vassalo, William Shelton, Devon Hill, Raphael S. Cohen, John P. Godges, et al.


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Research Questions

  1. What are the key features of resource planning in each comparative case?
  2. What are the perceived strengths and weaknesses of the comparative processes?
  3. What are the potential lessons from each case regarding DoD's PPBE System?

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution (PPBE) System is a key enabler for DoD to fulfill its mission. But in light of a dynamic threat environment, increasingly capable adversaries, and rapid technological changes, there has been increasing concern that DoD's resource planning processes are too slow and inflexible to meet warfighter needs. As a result, Congress mandated the formation of a legislative commission to (1) examine the effectiveness of the PPBE process and adjacent DoD practices, particularly with respect to defense modernization; (2) consider potential alternatives to these processes and practices to maximize DoD's ability to respond in a timely manner to current and future threats; and (3) make legislative and policy recommendations to improve such processes and practices for the purposes of fielding the operational capabilities necessary to outpace near-peer competitors, providing data and analytical insight, and supporting an integrated budget that is aligned with strategic defense objectives.

The Commission on PPBE Reform asked the RAND Corporation to provide an independent analysis of PPBE-like functions in selected countries and other non-DoD federal agencies. This report, part of a four-volume set, presents case studies of PPBE functions in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to provide insights for improving DoD's PPBE processes.

Key Findings

  • Other U.S. government agencies looked to DoD’s PPBE System as a model in developing their own systems, which subsequently evolved in accordance with their missions, organizational structures, authorities, staff capacities, available resources, and many other factors.
  • Long-term planning is often limited relative to that done by DoD.
  • A variety of mechanisms enable budget flexibility and agility to meet dynamic mission demands, highly variable mission needs, and emerging public health threats.
  • Mechanisms for enabling agility help agencies weather continuing resolutions and other sources of budget turbulence.
  • The latest replacement of execution with evaluation in PPBE-like processes could be instructive for DoD. ODNI's and DHS's evaluation efforts could help inform DoD's approach to the execution phase.
  • Implementation of PPBE-like processes at the scale of DoD is resource-intensive, institutionally challenging, and often infeasible for smaller agencies. One area in which the selected non-DoD agencies cannot emulate an exemplary DoD PPBE capability is DoD's Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation analytic function.
  • Consolidated resource management information systems could improve visibility across the federated structures of government agencies.

This research was sponsored by the Commission on Programming, Budgeting, and Execution (PPBE) Reform and conducted within the Acquisition and Technology Policy Program of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD).

This report is part of the RAND research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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