Papers, Briefs, and Articles
From the Vision Working Group:
Concept Paper: The National Security Planning & Execution Management System (NSPEMS) (January 2009)
By Sheila R. Ronis, Robert B. Polk, and Daniel R. Langberg
From the Structure Working Group:
Department of International Relations
By Ambassador (Ret) Edward Marks and Margaret Costa
From the Knowledge Management Working Group:
The Project on National Security Reform conducts extensive literature reviews as part of its study methodology. Project research fellows survey what experts, scholars and practitioners identify as impediments to U.S. government integration of national elements of power. In keeping with the Project’s emphasis on transparency and informal collaboration, we invite commentary on the literature reviews which we consider works in progress. If you believe we have missed an important source, or missed a key point from a source, or have mischaracterized a source, please let us know. Feel free to submit your own annotated bibliographical entries, and we will credit you as the source. Please submit comments on the literature reviews as follows to email@example.com:
National Security System Literature Review (PDF)
Human Capital Literature Review (PDF)
Knowledge Management Literature Review (PDF)
Resources Literature Review (PDF)
Organizational Structure Literature Review (PDF)
Processes Literature Review (PDF)
Project on National Security Reform Inaugural Conference
“Integrating Instruments of National Power in the New Security Environment”
Congress created the 1947 National Security Act to meet the challenges of the Cold War. Sixty years later, the national security system has not kept pace with tremendous changes in the geopolitical landscape, organizational practices, and information capabilities. In particular, it is incapable of effectively marshaling and integrating resources across federal agencies to meet critical national security objectives. As the security environment continues to change, the limitations of our current system are ever more glaring. This conference analyzed the history of the national security system, discussed challenges to its effectiveness, and developed imperatives for a well-functioning system.
The conference produced a number of findings related to challenges to the effectiveness of the national security system. Among them were the following:
- The civilian national security system does not effectively train or cultivate leadership in a sustained and systematic manner.
- The organizational cultures that currently prevail in interagency activities do not reward – collaboration and information sharing, and in fact militate against such cooperation.
- The lack of strategic planning for human resources needed for national security affairs encourages many departments to outsource work beyond their oversight capacity and beyond what would be considered efficient.
- In at least three respects—confused lines of authority, rigid vertical structures and difficulties integrating national, regional, and country-level efforts—current organizational structure impedes interagency collaboration.
- There is no established process to monitor and assess the execution of national security policies and plans.
- Strategic planning capabilities and the linkage of strategy to resource allocation decisions remains exceedingly difficult to achieve.
- No matter how well we integrate the elements of national power, if we are not able to resource the mission at the right level and with rapid adjustments to account for changing circumstances, we will not succeed.
- There is inadequate capacity in civilian national security organizations, especially but not only for expeditionary and post-conflict operations.
- Currently, there are insufficient mechanisms to reprogram or transfer resources easily and quickly within the national security system.
Building on the problems enumerated above, the conference produced a list of imperatives for a well-functioning national security system. To succeed in facing the challenges of the 21st century, a national security system must:
- Reward collaboration
- Generate competitive courses of action, then enforces disciplined unity of effort when one is chosen
- Match resource allocation with priorities, and quickly amend both when necessary
- Support leaders, enabling their direction of unified efforts rather than constantly thwarting them.
The conference was organized to present issues and insights in a manner replicating the Project’s internal organization into working groups. The sessions on the first day of the conference considered the problems holistically at the level of the entire national security system, and also the difficulties within typical categories of organizational analysis such as structure, process, and human capital. The plenary session provided an overview of the project with presentations on historical interagency issues, and the interagency process from a variety of perspectives.
For a full account of the conference, see the Inaugural Conference Proceedings (PDF).