The first three Editions of this Guide in 1986, 1989, and
1992 were well received and widely used by various levels of
Department of Defense (DoD) managers, the defense industry, and academia. We at the
Defense Systems Management College (DSMC) are pleased with the Guide's usefulness. We
firmly believe it has served the acquisition manager (AM) well in
understanding how to do business with Congress and fortify for its diversions.
The Third Edition cautioned DoD AMs to listen and look
for repercussions and new directions in working with Congress brought on by the
end of the Cold War. The current scene is as dramatic, but domestic politics only.
Political parties at both ends of Pennsylvania
Avenue have virtually switched places, but the basic Washington political
landscape remains unfettered: the American voters continue to demand split
government between the executive and legislative branches. Players' titles, names, and
faces change, even congressional committee names, but the basic culture for
doing business properly with Congress — from the authorization and
appropriations processes to dealing with personal staff — has shown only
slight (or is it temporary?) evidence of gene alteration. (Keep in mind that
some of the political angst on Capitol Hill emanates from this sudden role
reversal: the Democrats controlled Congress for 59 of the last 63 years.)
The obvious exceptions, of course, center around the
Republican takeover of the 104th Congress in January 1995, and the
reorganizations, ambitious legislative calendars, and speed toward agenda
accomplishment. How long this so-called "revolution" will sustain itself, or
whether it will settle into traditional conformity, has to be watched closely
before any long term conclusions or predictions can be drawn. While much of
the foregoing deals with issues outside of — and larger than — the
realm of the DoD AM, one can assume that any weapon system or any program can
become a chip at the political table. Thus, while advisedly maintaining a
"flexible business as usual" approach at the working level with Capitol Hill,
until he discovers differently, the AM must still be alert to sensitive issues
of concern to Congress and the Administration that may impact his program.
The DoD officials must recognize the relevance of the
continuing face changes in Congress. For example, since 1990, approximately
half of the House of Representatives has turned over, and with many incumbents
not running in 1996, the number will be approximately two-thirds by the 105th
Congress. Congressional corporate memory and experience levels are being
drained. Fewer and fewer Members, and their staffers, have served in the
military and thus assumedly enter with limited or no knowledge of DoD
What does this mean for DoD? For one,
it means DoD AMs are involved in a continuing, detailed educational process to
bring Members and staffers current. But it also means that "the way we have
always done it" may no longer be a starting point in discussions.
Regardless of who occupies seats in Congress, certain fundamental
tenets still apply to the successful and functioning DoD AM in doing business with Congress:
He must work hard overcoming
probable personal shortcomings in political knowledge, sensitivities, and
exposure to the Washington environment inherent in most military officers
and many senior civilian managers.
He must understand Congress as an institution, its role in governing, its
objectives, and how it operates.
He must learn the systems
through which Congress approves, funds, and monitors defense programs.
He must appreciate the relationship between DoD and Congress and work
within the framework of that relationship to manage those programs.
The mandatory requirement for acquisition officials
to come up to speed quickly has rendered a seat-of-the-pants, "learn for
yourself as I did" educational process obsolete. Existing — even simply
functioning — in today's volatile budgetary world of forces downsizing,
reduced research and development, and tailing-off of procurement, coupled with
properly identifying the threat and roles and missions to counter it (them),
is tough enough by itself. Add to it the world of congressional
involvement and relations, and the picture might
appear unstable or overwhelming.
This Guide describes how Congress
is organized and structured to perform its two major responsibilities in
working with DoD: the legislative process and the oversight function. It
provides history, timetables, explanations, and rationale. It attempts to
educate without hand-holding, inform without overwhelming. It offers
recommendations based on current directives and operating procedures,
tradition, experience, and a great deal of "street smart intellect." Included
as reference material is a partial listing of DoD directives on this subject.
Because this Guide is written in the broadest sense, it does not republish
contents of those documents. You should refer
to this listing and other documents for specific "how-to" guidance.
In January 1990, the Secretary of Defense sent to the President a White
Paper on the Department of Defense and the Congress, a treatise on the congressional defense oversight
process. In citing numerous instances of congressional "intervention" in
budgetary and management matters which complicated the management and
execution of defense programs, the paper called for consensus on reform
goals and improved working relationships between the DoD and Congress. The
paper subsequently was approved by the President and presented to
congressional leadership, but there was little movement to modify
Most of the identified issues remain. Even the casual student of Congress
would be well advised to read the White Paper and examine its
close connection with the material contained herein. A copy is held in the DSMC
For any references herein to the DoD 5000
Documents, a series of defense acquisition directives, the reader is reminded
to check the 1996 revised
issuance of the Documents to see what items are changed. At the time this
Fourth Edition went to press, publication of the new DoD 5000 Documents was
For ease of reference, the following terminology is used herein:
AM -- Defense acquisition manager. A DoD official
military or civilian - at any level of responsibility, including senior
management, program executive officers, program managers, and functional
PM -- Program, project, or product manager.
A DoD official -military or civilian - responsible for developing,
producing, and supporting an acquisition system.
Member -- Member of Congress, either of the Senate
(Senator) or the House of Representatives (Representative).
The institution, or the Legislative Branch. Also, either Members and
congressional staff or both, or generally Capitol Hill (" the Hill").
WILBUR D. JONES,
Defense Systems Management