Integrated PPBE Planning Is Necessary to Make JADC2 a Success

The PPBE planning process is foundational to JADC2, but there are significant roadblocks to making the joint mission a reality.

Presented by Decision Lens Decision Lens's logo

Each year, agencies within the Department of Defense develop a five-year federal budget plan for Congress that outlines the funding necessary to execute on the DoD’s programs and activities. This process, called Planning, Programming, Budgeting and Execution — or PPBE — is critical to the foundation of crucial initiatives like Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) because it provides the military with the funding to deploy the necessary technology to unify their missions.

However, while JADC2 is factored into the PPBE process, to some extent, it isn’t yet fully integrated. Without a formal path in place, there is no single program manager or overseer, often resulting in loosely coordinated efforts without any accountability or enforcement on the front end.

“The reality is that JADC2 is not a program of record, it’s less a singular product than a culture and mindset as to how the department plans to do business in the future,” explains Aaron Prupas, industry expert and retired Air Force major general. “There isn’t a JADC2 program manager in the sense of traditional defense acquisitions, there are different elements of oversight from policy and budget perspectives.”

This disaggregated approach often silos information, making it difficult for congress and other senior leaders to gain insight into how the funding of individual projects is impacting the broader JADC2 objective. Disparate programs can also result in duplicate efforts among defense agencies — an inefficient allocation of resources.

“Without that overall program function, you need to identify all the elements and interdependencies laid out, and you just need to hope you’re not building the wrong things that don’t connect,” adds a former Chief Financial Officer of the Intelligence Community.

Joint decision-making, especially as it applies to budgeting and programming processes, requires a significant degree of transparency, security and integration. To move toward achieving the larger JADC2 vision, it will be critical for the DoD to implement a common and transparent interface that will allow the services to share data and information in a complementary way during their PPBE planning and builds, as well as integrating the whole JADC2 picture during the Pentagon's program review process, without creating further misalignments.

Additionally, a shared framework can support defense agencies not only share and visualize information internally, but also justify necessary budgets to Congress.

“When we go and deliver our budget requests to the Hill, we can show the data that informed our decision, and when they question us, and they've got different political priorities or constituent priorities that they want to align things to, we can show them why we made our decisions and stand behind it with objective analysis,” says the former IC CFO.

Communication Is Key to Interoperability

The whole-of-DoD approach to resourcing required for JADC2 is dependent upon varying degrees of interoperability between systems. However, keeping such a wide variety of different programs — and all the critical data they contain — secure is no easy feat, especially given the constant in-flux of security compliances in the department. The only way for capabilities to grow securely and collaboratively in a unified environment is to link functionalities at integration.

“The integration of this is fundamental to ensuring that across the joint operations, the different services and capabilities work together as they're intended and designed to, and that individual capabilities contribute to the larger mission,” explains the former IC CFO.

Over-communication between the defense branches during programming and planning will prove key to achieving synchronized integration, ensuring the services and agencies have a clear understanding of what their individual components bring to the joint fight, and allow them to easily share that information with their counterparts across the DoD, and even beyond into the rest of the government, as well as with partners and allies.

“The integration function ensures that when an operation begins, and we're trying to get there and deploy this joint way of war fighting, that the systems that we've acquired and bought and deployed are able to depend upon one another,” notes a senior IC official. “And there's not a gap in that interoperability that really takes down the entirety of the architecture.”

Embracing a “Whole of Nation” Strategy

As global competition increases and near peer competitors grow more sophisticated, the responsibility of JADC2 programming must extend beyond the DoD and into other branches of government.

It's not just integration in the Department of Defense, it's actually dependent on integration with the other departments as well,” explains Prupas. “So, with the intelligence community in particular — but also the other branches of the U.S. government — a whole-of-nation strategy is required here.”

A “whole of nation” approach, which pulls together all areas of government to address a common cause, is not a novel concept, but it is a complex and difficult task to incorporate into the current DoD budgeting environment.

During the PPBE process, every activity within the DoD aligns to a program element. Program elements have data tied to them describing what they intend to accomplish, and any appropriations associated with them. The former IC CFO explains that the DoD must develop a consistent way to link program element descriptions together by indicating how those capabilities map to the joint mission, then create an analysis around the level of resources going to those programs to better assess allocation. And finally, the DoD must use that analysis to translate their needs to other sectors of the government.

“When you start to integrate all this information into a transparent environment, it begins to become much more apparent how you can have confidence in the ability of the program to deliver,” he says. “We can justify it because of this data, and we can share that with everybody as to why.”

Integrated Planning Software is the Solution

In order to sustainably deploy the JADC2 vision, each branch of the military should rely on a consistent decision framework that can aggregate and analyze data in a cohesive, actionable way.

“A tool that allows you to incorporate sound program management practice analyses and execution data into your decision making is going to help align your resources to priorities,” says a senior IC official.

The dedicated team at Decision Lens, an integrated planning software company, is working to make the joint mission a reality by allowing the armed forces to modernize the way they collect, manage and decide based on comprehensive, real-time data.

The platform incorporates program and execution data into PPBE decision-making efforts, supporting effective resource allocation driving JADC2 forward in a tangible way, by channeling year-of-execution data into future PPBE cycles.

Moreover, Decision Lens’ FedRAMP-compliant solution includes security features like audit logs and role-based permissions that enforce the necessary levels of security while simultaneously facilitating joint workflows at program integration.

Collaboration capabilities, like threaded commenting, allow the DoD to share data both with congressional oversight as they compare and contrast resource allocation, and amongst defense agencies so they can better understand the full scope of their joint investments and identify gaps in the joint framework.

“It's a tool that allows us to take this data in and look at it objectively in real time to see what the impact would be,” notes Prupas. “Decision Lens allows these policymakers and decision-makers to more objectively look at the inputs, as they make recommendations for programming and budgeting.”

Ultimately, the software Decision Lens brings to bear will allow the DoD to make more informed decisions to better serve the American people and ensure the military uses its budget in the most effective way possible.

Learn more about how Decision Lens can improve PPBE processes and drive JADC2 efforts.

This content is made possible by our sponsor. The editorial staff was not involved in its preparation.

NEXT STORY: Accelerate Space Superiority with Open Data Platforms