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Pentagon establishment resisting change

Bottom Line Up Front: Old-timers within the Pentagon, unhappy with reforms, have been stonewalling the Digital Transformation.

Looking for the new Boss of DoD Acquisitions

You probably heard that one of the top leaders in the Pentagon’s Digital Transformation, Michael Brown, had been nominated to replace Ellen Lord as head of Defense Acquisition. Nobody could have been a better pick than Michael Brown, currently head of the Defense Innovation Unit, and long-time hotshot leader of reforming Defense acquisitions.

So it came as a tremendous surprise last week when Michael Brown withdrew from consideration. Who would be better suited to the job than him? Why would he do that? What happened?

It was to be expected

In this really great article, Fred Kaplan explains that it was insider cultural resistance from within the Pentagon that kept Michael Brown from the top seat.

The Digital Transformation people have been waking up an old, creaky, rusty machine, and it was to be expected that some of the machinery would balk at the changes. And that’s exactly what happened. Folks that don’t want to change and don’t want to learn new ways of doing technology used bureaucratic strategies to stonewall, delay, and resist.

Not wanting to engulf his boss, President Joe Biden, in a political quagmire that would take years to unwind, Michael Brown simply withdrew.

This is Bad news for the Digital Transformation

Losing the best candidate for the job means that the Digital Transformation will now be delayed. Reforms will be set back, time will be wasted, and the new way of doing things will take longer to get here. Make no mistake, the changes will get here; the bureaucrats have only delayed the inevitable. But now we’ve made things worse for ourselves and given our adversaries the gift of time.