DoD Buzz

New Chief Management Officer to Lead Pentagon Bureaucracy Overhaul

John H. "Jay" Gibson II (Image: DoD)
John H. "Jay" Gibson II (Image: DoD)

John H. "Jay" Gibson II, the former deputy undersecretary of defense for management reform, officially began work last week as the Pentagon's chief management officer in the latest attempt to shake up Department of Defense bureaucracy.

As the No. 3 official at the Defense Department, after Secretary Jim Mattis and Deputy Secretary Patrick Shanahan, Gibson now has the enormous task of setting policy and overseeing all of the DoD's business operations to include planning, performance management, information technology management and resource allocation.

Gibson "will lead our efforts to synchronize technology, people, resources and processes to achieve reform," chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White said at a briefing last Thursday.

White said Gibson will also take on a previously undisclosed duty.

"He will also manage the fourth estate," meaning DoD press operations, as well as "the DoD staff and agencies that don't fall under our military services."

As CMO, Gibson will be leading what the DoD is billing as the largest management reorganization of the Pentagon since the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act, which bolstered the office of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and re-organized the military chain of command.

Shanahan told defense reporters in December that creation of the CMO's position "goes to the fundamental restructuring of the department."

"Congress has written in the law many, many times that we need to have a chief management officer," Shanahan said, and "a good portion of Jay's responsibility is going to help us transition organizationally and technically."

Under a reorganization plan approved last August, the new post of CMO will have major responsibilities in the areas of logistics and supply; real property; community services; human resources; health care; and technology systems.

Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, said he expects Gibson to get pushback in all those areas from the entrenched bureaucracy.

"You'll probably hear screaming and yelling" because of the belief among some career officials that "change is bad," he said.

However, "if you're going to have a more performance-driven operation, you have to unwind the bureaucracy and reorganize," Shanahan said.

Gibson is also expected to have major input in how the Pentagon goes about the breakup of the of DoD's Office of Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L).

Under the National Defense Authorization Act of 2018, AT&L was split last month to create a new undersecretary of defense for Research and engineering (R&E) and a new undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment (A&S).

In the lead-up to passage of the NDAA, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, both argued that splitting AT&L is vital to streamlining the cumbersome process of getting new weapons and technology into the hands of warfighters.

Shanahan also said he expects Gibson, a former assistant secretary of the Air Force and former chief executive of XCOR Aerospace, to make changes in how the DoD operates that could not be undone by future administrations.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at

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