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

Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution in Comparative Organizations

Volume 6, Additional Case Studies of Selected Non-DoD Federal Agencies

Published May 8, 2024

by Stephanie Young, Megan McKernan, Ryan Consaul, Laurinda L. Rohn, Frank G. Klotz, Michael Simpson, Sarah W. Denton, Yuliya Shokh, Madison Williams, Raphael S. Cohen, 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 challenges 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 RAND to provide an independent analysis of PPBE-like functions in selected countries and other non-DoD federal agencies. This report, part of a seven-volume set, presents case studies of PPBE functions in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to provide additional 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.
  • There are perceived opportunities to strengthen the connection between strategy and budgets.
  • A variety of mechanisms enable budget flexibility and agility to meet dynamic mission demands and emerging threats.
  • Mechanisms for enabling agility help agencies weather continuing resolutions and other sources of budget turbulence.
  • The emphasis on evaluation rather than execution in some non-DoD PPBE-like processes could be instructive for DoD. Beyond the explicit focus on evaluation in NNSA, both VA and NNSA have implemented mechanisms to support better analytic inputs to assist with evaluation that could help inform DoD's PPBE approach.
  • There is improved analytic rigor through NNSA's implementation of the Office of Cost Estimating and Program Evaluation, which provides independent cost estimates and analyses similar to those of DoD's Office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation.
  • 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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