Defense Secretary James N. Mattis today swore in John H. Gibson II as the department’s chief management officer, hailing him as the right person to lead the effort in reforming the department for improved efficiency.
“You have a truly unique role as the first chief management officer in the history of the Department of Defense,” Mattis said at the Pentagon ceremony.
The chief management officer is third for authority at the Defense Department. The position was created in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act.
Mattis explained Gibson will spearhead efforts to support the third line of effort in the National Defense Strategy: reforming the department for efficiency, capability and affordability.
Success in the first two lines of effort – increasing lethality and strengthening alliances – depends on whether the department can perform better, the secretary noted.
The practices of the department are not set in stone, Mattis said, further explaining he expects Gibson to reform any practice that does not increase lethality or strengthen international partnerships.
Gibson will be a trailblazer in the effort to spend wisely every dollar entrusted to the department by Congress and the American people, Mattis said.
“We need you to set a precedent in this job that’s so faultless — that no successor could dream of departing from the path that you’re going to blaze for them,” the secretary said.
Up for the Task
Gibson, who most recently served as deputy chief management officer, was nominated by President Donald J. Trump in January 2018 to serve as CMO. The Senate confirmed the nomination in February 2018.
Addressing the ceremony today, Gibson acknowledged there will be challenges in reforming the department for greater performance and affordability.
“Accomplishing the secretary’s third priority of reforming the business of the department will not be easy,” he said. “Those who have succeeded at this type of change will tell you it takes five to seven years to see enduring results, but, it has to start and build momentum.”
Attempts at such monumental change require alignment, communication, trust and never-ending persistence, he said.
“It is my responsibility to set the highest level of performance in each of these attributes to ensure we achieve success,” he said.
Improving Efficiencies, Spending Tax Dollars Wisely
Success in his job, Gibson explained, entails the alignment of the organization in the most efficient and effective manner across the Defense Department enterprise. He further detailed success to include improved readiness, found savings to return to the warfighter, and that continuous improvement based on performance and accountability becomes the norm.
“Lowering the cost of doing business and returning resources for higher priorities is simply the right thing to do for this department and as stewards of the American taxpayer investment,” he said.