by Geoff Evans
Management Under Scrutiny
As noted by Observations in the October-December 2006 edition of THE
NAVY, the Minister for Defence had recently announced a Review of Defence
management practices. The Minister's statement named Ms Elizabeth Proust,
a distinguished businesswoman whose career included senior Victorian
Government and Melbourne City Council appointments, as chairman of the
Subsequently, the writer received details of the Review Panel's membership,
the Terms of Reference and an invitation to appear before the panel
(regrettably declined for a number of reasons and instead submitted
'impressions' of Defence arrangements gained from a long association
with the Navy). The Minister's announcement also referred to the appointment
of a permanent Defence Business Improvement Board of eight members -
four external appointments and four from within Defence - to tackle
The panel headed by Ms Proust also included Vice Admiral Chris Ritchie,
Navy Chief 2002-2005; Mr John Azarias, a Senior Partner in the accountancy
firm Deloitte Australia and Dr Alan Kallir, an experienced management
The panel was charged with examining and assessing organisational efficiency
and effectiveness in the Defence organisation, and make recommendations
with particular regard to:
(a) decision making and business process, having regard to best practice
in organisations of comparable size and complexity;
(b) the appropriateness and need for military personnel in non- operational
or executive positions in the organisation and efficacy of Defence preparation
for senior postings;
(c) structure, processes and procedures for managing information and
providing timely and accurate information to stakeholders;
(d) the adequacy of the information management systems which support
business processes and reporting requirements.
The Review was also required to provide "direction on the role and work
programme of the Defence Business Improvement Board". There were however,
qualifications; these included a reference to reforms underway in the
Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) which the Review would note, together
with the role of the Defence Procurement Advisory Board, but "the Review
should not seek to specifically address business processes in DMO".
The ADF operational chain of command was also not to be considered.
Given the challenges facing all conventional defence forces at the present
time - endless technological developments leading to material costs,
personnel shortages and not least the diversion of national resources
to combat the threat posed by terrorism - it is not surprising that
governments should seek to reduce costs in areas such as administration
and management; in this regard Ms Proust's Review Panel will no doubt
make a worthwhile contribution.
If however, the Government was really serious about assessing the nation's
defence arrangements, it would examine the whole organisation rather
than numerous reviews and inquiries into different parts of the organisation
- DMO and the chain of command included.
The Review headed by Ms Proust is expected to report to the Minister
for Defence on schedule and at about the same time this edition of THE
NAVY is published.
Nuclear-Powered Ships for the USN?
an article in the United States Naval Institute's February 2007 issue
of PROCEEDINGS, the author Norman Polmar* discusses current proposals
in Congress and elsewhere to again build nuclear-powered-destroyer/cruiser-tyre
ships rather than conventionally powered ships of this type. An objective
is to reduce the USN's dependence on imported oil, one of the reasons
nearly fifty years ago to build nuclear powered cruisers and destroyers,
nine being built between 1961 and 1980 and all now decommissioned, the
last in 1998. This writer recalls the visits of LONG BEACH and TRUXTON
to Melbourne and the stir they caused at the time!
The ship in mind for the new program is a cruiser being considered to
follow the current new generation, conventionally powered, DDG-IOOO
destroyer program (reported in previous issues of THE NAVY). The cruiser,
designated CG(X), is planned to be conventionally powered but as it
is not expected to be ordered before 2011. Nuclear advocates suggest
there is probably time to redesign the ship to provide for nuclear propulsion.
The author suggests it might be feasible if the US Navy adopted an existing
submarine power plant or provided half of that of a carrier.
Author Polmar believes however, the odds are against the construction
of nuclear-powered cruisers in the immediate future, cost being the
main impediment. There are other issues:
. The engineering personnel of nuclear ships are significantly more
expensive to recruit, train, and retain than for conventionally propelled-surface
. Nuclear surface ship availability is less than conventional ships,
i.e, they spend more time in shipyards.
. Nuclear ship accessibility to ports is difficult, including certain
US ports as well as foreign.
. Nuclear ship disposal costs are considerable.
The article includes references to the well-known Admiral Rickover's
1960s plans for a force of nuclear strike cruisers to escort the carriers
- four per carrier, 48 to 60 in all; 1974 . legislation supporting nuclear
powered surface combatants provide the following US oil consumption
figures - Department of Defence 300,000 barrels per day of which 8%
went to the sea forces compared to 73% air and 15% to ground usage.
The article concludes "... while nuclear propelled surface ships are
certainly desirable in many operational scenarios, the current forecast
for shipbuilding funds and several other factors sharply reduce their
feasibility. And while oil consumption is a significant factor in naval
operations, more efficient or different types of propulsion for military
aircraft and ground vehicles would provide a much better return on investment".
(* Norman Polmar is the author of "Ships and Aircraft of the US.
Fleet" and is a regular contributor to the PROCEEDINGS)