Efficiency for Lethality: Reforming DoD’s Business Operations
The Honorable Lisa W. Hershman, Chief Management Officer (CMO) of the Department of Defense (DOD), presented Efficiency for Lethality: Reforming DOD’s Business Operations during the 2020 GovTravels Symposium. Held in Alexandria, Virginia, GovTravels was co-sponsored by the National Defense Transportation Association (NDTA) and the Defense Travel Management Office (DTMO).
As the CMO, Ms. Hershman is the third highest-ranking civilian within DOD. The CMO’s mission is to deliver optimized enterprise business operations to assure the success of the National Defense Strategy. Optimizing business operations related to travel has been of particular importance to Ms. Hershman, who has made it her goal to make the Department Easy To Do Business With (ETDBW).
“Whether you are working in a process or the recipient of a process, if the process is broken, it’s challenging,” said Ms. Hershman. For this reason, making DOD ETDBW has as much to do with making things easier for industry travel personnel as for the military and government customers they serve.
To accomplish this goal, Ms. Hershman has worked to identify and fix broken processes. Describing the need for “workarounds” or exceedingly lengthy policy manuals as indicators that a broken process exists, she explained that identifying broken processes is key to pinpointing reform opportunities.
Data proved to be invaluable in determining whether problems within the travel system were one-off issues or systematic. For example, within their travel process, DOD had negotiated tickets that had little to no restrictions to allow the greatest flexibility. However, data showed that tickets were only changed four percent of the time, and a four percent risk was not worth the price of the flexible tickets. The process was reformed based on the Department’s ability to measure its pricing assumptions against the actual price.
While reform success has traditionally been measured in terms of dollars, Ms. Hershman now requires every reform initiative to be measured by balanced scorecards. These scorecards are required to include some customer experience criteria.
Improvements to the customer experience were made through policy changes, greater accessibility to an app that allowed customers to make changes on their government phones and not just on their computers, more travel system modernization, as well as other changes to the overall experience.
Travel reform initiatives have been tested through pilot programs with remarkable results. The average time it takes to book a ticket has been reduced from four hours to one. Travel claim issues—usually payment issues caused by underpayment, a missed payment, or an overpayment—have gone from five percent down to less than one percent.
From a pricing standpoint across the Army, Navy, Air Force, Comptroller, and other DOD organizations where pilot programs have been tested, the Department saved over $80.4 million. But while the metrics were exciting, Ms. Hershman was most excited about the improvements to the customer experience.
Ms. Hershman encouraged users and customers—whether government or industry—to provide feedback. “Because my goal again is to not only improve operations, save money, but to be easier to do business with—and there is no better audience that can give me substantive feedback than all of you.”