Two years ago you retired as an Air Force Colonel (O6) who had most recently served as the Inspector General (IG) in one of the unified combatant commands. Having a political-military background, security wasn’t your area of expertise; however, as the IG you worked closely with Command security officers, both uniformed and civilian, and were recognized for resolving several significant security issues, among other organizational matters. Most significantly, you were known for your strong leadership skills and outstanding ability to work with a broad range of organizations to resolve contentious problems. The Command Chief of Staff, Lt Gen Lisa Harrington, was particularly impressed with your strong leadership skills and outstanding ability to work with other directorates to resolve difficult challenges facing the Command.
Four months ago you heard that Lt Gen Harrington had left the Command and had been appointed as the Administrator for the Joint Defense Services Agency (JDSA), a DoD support agency with significant international operations. Evidently JDSA had received a scathing DoD IG review late last year, and as a result Lt Gen Harrington was being brought in to address and resolve significant security deficiencies, in addition to undertaking long-needed organizational reforms.
Three months ago you got a surprise phone call from Lt Gen Harrington, who told you about both the DoD IG Report and the progress the Agency had made over the last several weeks. While she told you that “the security bleeding had been staunched,” she said she was now concerned with larger organizational problems that could hamper the Agency’s long-term mission accomplishment. Not surprisingly, the Agency’s previous GS-15 security manager had just retired (under a cloud). Based on her confidence in your leadership skills and your IG background and demonstrated ability to work across organizational lines to solve complex problems, she wanted you to apply for the newly established Deputy Director for Security position. You did so and were selected.
Now, after having been in your job for just over four weeks, you’re confident that the rebuilding of Agency security programs to address deficiencies in the DoD IG report is well underway and implementation seems to be proceeding satisfactorily. However, during your initial courtesy call Lt Gen Harrington shared her concerns over what she referred to as “the larger organizational issues,” and she directed you to “take a month or so to get your feet on the ground, then come talk to me about your observations and recommendations for long-term fixes.” “Think broadly,” she advised. “I hired you because of your leadership skills and organizational savvy, and I’m convinced there are problems in this Agency that go beyond the security issues identified by the DoD IG. I’d like to hear your recommendations.” So, while the security fixes appear to be on track, there’s certainly more work to be done.
To get a good picture of the current situation, you interviewed 10 key Agency executives: the Deputy Administrator, the Chief of Staff, six of the seven Directors (one was on leave, deputy wasn’t available), one division chief, and one regional coordination security manager. After reviewing your notes from the interviews, you’re in agreement with the Administrator that while the initial problem that brought you to the position may have been the DoD IG report on security discrepancies, the Agency’s problems go far beyond the security realm.
TASK: You’re scheduled for an appointment one week from now to brief the Administrator on a recommended course of action. Based on what you’ve learned about the organization and the knowledge you’ve acquired from this leadership course, analyze, develop, and justify a set of recommendations to your Administrator. Be sure to include the following elements:
Organizational problems you’ve identified based on the staff interviews and your understanding of organizational dynamics and culture. Be sure to identify the root causes of the problems, and why you think they exist
Specifications you think would be necessary to optimize the Agency’s organizational performance
Remember to stay focused on leadership and organizational issues, rather than technical details of this mythical agency or fictional DoD IG Report. Where you feel you don’t have all the information you need, identify any necessary assumptions and apply your best judgment to develop a practical solution.
Attachment 1 Joint Defense Services Agency (JDSA) Mission
JDSA is a Combat Support Agency comprised of 11,500 military, Federal civilian, and contractor personnel. We support the defense community—the joint warfighters, National-level leaders, and other mission and coalition partners—in defense of the United States across the full spectrum of operations. We provide enterprise services to OSD, the Joint Staff, State Department, COCOMS, the services, and U.S. industry through information support, interoperability, and joint warfighting capability assessment and evaluation, and, where needed, transfer of defense-related information capabilities. Along with our mission partners, our collective goal is to enable and assure seamless, end-to-end enterprise service support when it is needed, where it is needed, throughout the world. Toward that end, we also provide our partners with the policy, processes, and training support necessary to achieve strategic integration and maximize mission