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Secretary of Army announces transformation commission

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Aug. 15, 2011) -- The Army announced Aug. 15 the creation of a new commission to help transform the service and prepare it for inevitable cuts to the defense budget.

"There is no question that our Army, indeed, the entire Department of Defense, is under tremendous, and I think we all understand, inescapable pressure to reduce costs," said Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh.

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In front of more than 100 members of the Senior Executive Service, McHugh announced creation of an "Institutional Army Transformation Commission" -- a longer-term version of what the secretary had already started with a temporary transformation task force.

"That commission will do on a more extended basis the important work that has already begun under the current temporary task force -- with a more enduring, longer-term effort," McHugh said. "The commission will continue to function for the next three years. This longer-term approach is historically and practically necessary."

What's already been started, McHugh told senior Army civilian leaders, are efforts to eliminate redundancies in research and development, to review "temporary organizations" which the secretary said all-too-often have a tendency to become permanent, to streamline Army requirements processes, to optimize Army acquisition, and to make changes in human capital management.

The secretary also told leaders the Army is top-heavy on civilian personnel, and is manned at nearly 18,000 over its authorization.

"Those over-hires need to be rationalized," he said.

McHugh told civilian leaders that while transformation would not be easy, it would streamline the Army, and it would also leave the Army with a smaller workforce. The Army only recently announced nearly 9,000 civilian positions must be cut.

The secretary also said the director of the Army staff would ensure "only the most qualified" personnel are chosen to serve on the commission -- those who "possess the skill sets and expertise required."

"If we don't do this ourselves," McHugh said of Army transformation, "it will be done for us -- to us -- and we risk being salami-sliced and hollowed out. This is our chance, it is our moment to lead and innovate, to restructure and transform."

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