Project on the Defense Budget

Removing Barriers to Defense Modernization

The United States is at risk of losing its military advantage over adversaries like China, in part due to the difficulty of allocating resources to the most important and promising opportunities.  Its 1960's-era resource allocation system hinders the Department of Defense's (DoD) pace in fielding the new combat capabilities necessary to win or prevent future wars. Political and bureaucratic barriers to harnessing commercial sector innovation handicap the Department's developments and limit the potential of recent military acquisition reforms. Modernizing the Cold War era legacy of the Department's Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution (PPBE) system is the key to bringing 21st-century agility to defending this country's national security, ensuring we maintain the upper hand against adaptive foes that wield information-age tools.


Once the state-of-the-art for applying statistical and management discipline to create a predictable, evidence-based decision, today the PPBE system is the Achilles Heel of our national security – a political gauntlet that few original ideas can survive. While the PPBE process provides long-term stability and predictable performance for those programs that fit decadal timescales, it struggles in a security environment increasingly defined by the agility of the private sector, the short decision cycles of nondemocratic societies, and the demands of joint warfighting solutions.


The Day One Project is working alongside key stakeholders to remove the barriers to defense modernization inherent in the PPBE system and its adjacent resource allocation processes. The goal is to broker a lasting political compromise with actionable, bipartisan recommendations that will result in the most comprehensive reform of the DoD's resource allocation system since the 1980s.