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

Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution in Comparative Organizations

Volume 4, Executive Summary

Published Jan 23, 2024

by Megan McKernan, Stephanie Young, Timothy R. Heath, Dara Massicot, Andrew Dowse, Devon Hill, James Black, Ryan Consaul, Michael Simpson, Sarah W. Denton, 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?
  4. How might adversary processes affect U.S. comparative advantage and disadvantage?

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution (PPBE) process 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 in Section 1004 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 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.

To inform this work, the Commission on PPBE Reform asked the RAND Corporation to provide an independent analysis of PPBE-like functions in selected countries and non-DoD federal agencies. This executive summary distills key insights from a series of case studies of budgeting processes across nine comparative organizations, as detailed in three companion volumes.

Key Findings

  • There is a need for balance between enabling innovation and agility in military acquisition and ensuring the budget stability and predictability required for complex, long-term development efforts.
  • Beyond resource planning processes, military modernization requires a strong and broad-based societal foundation — with a trained workforce, an industrial capacity, innovation policies, national investments, and long-term planning and coordination of these inputs.
  • DoD resource planning policies and decisions have implications for defense industrial base health and interdependent, co-development efforts with allies and partners.
  • Continuing resolutions and other sources of budgetary uncertainty that impede DoD resource planning are challenges that are not encountered by the allies and partners examined in these case studies.
  • Other U.S. government agencies have developed tailored approaches and mechanisms that enable budget flexibility and agility to meet mission needs.
  • Resource management processes across the board tend to be risk-averse, which will be difficult to change as DoD responds to emerging threats and seeks to spur innovation.

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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