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

Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution in Comparative Organizations

Volume 7, Executive Summary for Additional Case Studies

Published May 8, 2024

by Stephanie Young, Megan McKernan, Andrew Dowse, Nicolas Jouan, Theodora Ogden, Austin Wyatt, Mattias Eken, Linda Slapakova, Naoko Aoki, Ryan Consaul, 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?
  4. How might adversary processes affect U.S. comparative advantage and disadvantage?

The U.S. Department of Defense's (DoD's) 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 RAND to provide an independent analysis of PPBE-like functions in selected countries and other non-DoD federal agencies. This executive summary distills key insights from seven case studies of budgeting processes across comparative organizations, as detailed in two companion volumes, and compiles findings from all 16 case studies in the seven-volume series.

Key Findings

  • France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, and Sweden are highly capable U.S. partners that share some strategic concerns and priorities.
  • Foreign military sales are an important mechanism for advancing shared goals, but this support is balanced by initiatives to maintain domestic industrial capacity.
  • Several countries recently signaled an intent to increase their overall defense spending, but there will be countervailing pressures on top-line budgets.
  • Although the countries' political systems are diverse, there is limited friction between the executive and legislative branches in their budgeting processes.
  • The countries place greater emphasis on budget predictability and stability than on agility.
  • Despite the common emphasis on stability, each system provides some budget flexibility to address unanticipated changes.
  • There are varied approaches to oversight for ensuring transparency, efficiency, and accountability but fewer mechanisms for evaluating effectiveness.
  • Other U.S. government agencies looked to DoD's PPBE System as a model in developing their own systems, which subsequently evolved.
  • There are perceived opportunities to strengthen connections between strategy and budgets in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) planning processes.
  • VA and NNSA have a variety of mechanisms that enable budget flexibility and agility; these mechanisms can also 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.
  • Analytical rigor has improved through NNSA's implementation of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE)-like capabilities.
  • 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).

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