Promoting Abusive Leaders

TruthBig blurb in the Post this morning, but I’m not sure it’s “news.”  Some of our most legendary leaders could probably be characterized as “abusive”, but generally (pardon the pun!) they were abusive to knuckleheads and fiercely loyal to those who did their jobs.  We can all name a few folks who seemed to have forgotten that they were promoted to senior ranks not by the sheer force of their personality, but by the deeds and actions of those who worked for them.  When that happens the system almost always gets it right and fixes the problem.  Usually the abusive leaders wind up stewing in their own juices.  Maybe the real headline is not that there are more abusive leaders these days, but more knuckleheads!

On a serious note, there’s no room in our Armed Forces for abusive leaders who belittle their subordinates (for any reason), take advantage of their position for personal gratification or profit, or forget to acknowledge the sacrifice  and hard work of others that enabled their promotion.  I hope the take-away is not that the ranks of our Armed Forces are filled with abusive leaders, but that the system identifies and removes the limited number who exist.  It’s a long article, so here’s the link.  Let me know what you think!

Pentagon investigations point to military system that promotes abusive leaders


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Pentagon Wish List

I saw this article in Bloomberg News  on the Pentagon Wish List this morning.  In my days in the Pentagon we always had an unfunded list to share with the Hill.  Inevitably, the day after the President’s Budget was submitted the Hill was asking for the list.  Back then we didn’t share with OSD.  It was all part of the strategy.  There was the regular budget submission (those things that everyone wanted), the Gold Watch list (things we left out but were sure to be included  in law because of Hill support) and the Unfunded list (those things we really wanted but OSD didn’t want us to have).  It was quite a complicated process to get the budget submitted without offending someone!!  Looks like OSD has taken control. I wonder if the Services might have a “secret” wish list?????

Pentagon to Outline How It Would Spend an Additional $26 Billion

By Tony Capaccio January 27, 2014

The Pentagon’s budget plan for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1 will outline how it would spend an additional $26 billion if Congress could find the money, according to U.S. officials.

The White House Office of Management and Budget last week directed the Pentagon to produce the what-if list as part of an “investment fund” it would include when President Barack Obama’s proposed budget is submitted to Congress on March 4.

The Pentagon would present the fund to demonstrate its priorities if more money were added to what was allocated in last month’s congressional budget deal, one of the officials said. The wish list could include weapons, base maintenance, projects to improve readiness or research programs, according to the officials, who asked not to be identified in advance of the budget release.

The White House will say in its budget presentation that the additional money would be offset by cuts in mandatory domestic spending and revenue increases, the officials said.

The “investment fund” is similar to the “unfunded priorities lists” the military services would submit to the House Armed Services Committee for years until then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates discouraged the practice.

The fiscal 2015 total for base defense spending, excluding war operations, is about $498 billion, about $43 billion less than the total projected by the Pentagon last year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tony Capaccio in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Walcott at


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Federal Financial Shared Services

I attended the AGA Federal Shared Services Summit last week and came away thinking there is still a lot of work to do.  This is a case of “the spirit is willing but the body is weak.”  There is no doubt that agencies must move to a shared services model in order to make ends meet in the current fiscal environment, but the devil is in the details.  What is the motivation for agencies to become Shared Service Providers?  Is it the prospect of more money?  And why would an agency want to cede control of its financial system to another agency? I have experienced these questions in my not-for-profit life as we have tried to control “back office” costs.  It was ultimately a question of survival.  Without sharing back office functions, we would not survive.  In the case of a government agency, they will continue to survive, so where is the motivation to go to the shared services model?  I believe there needs to be clear incentives for agencies to make the shift and I don’t see them… least not yet.


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