The PPBE Commission has released a large body of research with multiple recommendations, many of which will take years to fully implement. The enclave is only one of these recommendations but it is an essential and foundational one. Because of its unique position as a platform for communication between Congress and the DoD, an enclave offers insights into other aspects of PPBE modernization. Done thoughtfully and effectively, an accessible, user-friendly enclave will ease tension, build trust, improve cooperation, increase transparency, and accelerate decision making. Done poorly, it will exacerbate existing frustrations.

One of the challenges with the PPBE Reform Commission findings is deciding where to begin. Many of the recommendations contained in this report may change depending on what PPBE Commission recommendations are implemented and in which order. Enclave development must also take the other Commission recommendations into account. For example, budget structure transformation could actually ease development requirements for the enclave, if done during early stages of development. If done later, it could create significant disruption. Either way, the development of an enclave will change dramatically throughout the process of implementation. It should be approached as a long-term, iterative process and should be staffed and funded appropriately. Once established, it will need sustainment to ensure it remains relevant.

Early efforts to centralize acquisition data suffer from a lack of leadership and accountability. The enclave pilot’s dismal performance reflects the absence of both. To be successful, the DoD should assign a single, accountable person to lead development. They should have open access and the authority to coordinate data across the DoD enterprise. They should have enough budget to assemble an internal team of experts in product delivery and a guarantee that sufficient funding will be available to maintain the team and leverage existing contracts.

Built correctly, the enclave will help DoD reorganize and restructure its approach to data management. Organizationally, Advana has many advantages and several unrealized benefits. Good work has been done to centralize tools and security approvals but its implementation is unnecessarily complicated. Advana appears to lack oversight and organizational principles. Development is unconstrained and unfocused, at least in regard to the PPBE process. Significant effort will need to be made to centralize, restructure, and effectively reorganize and manage PPBE data. The current practice of maintaining multiple instances of Advana and replicating data has serious and negative implications. Data-driven decision making is not effective if the data is unreliable. At best it leads to waste. At worst, it could affect critical, operational decision making. Issues like slow load times may seem trivial but will lead to system abandonment, squandered effort, and distrust. There is no point in building software that no one uses.

DoD should strive to provide Congressional staff with a single user interface that has flexibility for staff to create unique queries. That user interface should reference accurate, authoritative, and timely data. Enclave users should know when data was last updated, know when it will be updated next, and be alerted to any data that is not loading correctly. Data need not be provided in real time nor must it be comprehensive. Setting unrealistic expectations will lead to unrealized results. Instead, DoD should learn from Congressional staff and provide data that is relevant, authoritative, easy to access, and current enough to be useful.

As a north star, it is important to keep in mind that Congressional staff don’t want data. They want knowledge. Knowledge requires context that data alone cannot provide. DoD cannot understand these needs without working closely and routinely with Congressional staff during development. The enclave should be approached as a solution to a communication problem rather than a technology problem. Digitizing the current, fractured communication patterns has led to useless, fractured technology. Solving the communication problem, on the other hand, will lead to simple, intuitive, and informative technology.

A large complex system simply cannot make decisions nimbly without data. Ultimately, a well-designed, properly executed enclave will be the technical foundation for change and may prove to be critical in restoring trust and improving collaboration between Congress and the DoD.

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This site was last updated on 12 MAR 2024.