What the Selective Service System
says about itself and its plans for
An article from THE REGISTER, November/December 2003
Process Improvement Project
THE REGISTER, November/December 2003
The Register is an unoffi cial publication of the Selective
Service System, National Headquarters, Arlington, Va.,
22209. Viewpoints herein do not represent offi cial policy.
Editor: Alyce Teel Burton, Layout/Design: Laurie Zaleski
and Neal Dallmer.
The Register welcomes any news of interest to the Selective
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Editor, The Register, Selective Service System, National
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The Selective Service System (SSS) has been taking a long, hard look at itself. During most of calendar year 2003, Acting Director Lew Brodsky, has led scores of Agency personnel in a complex and far-reaching project of process review and
“It’s absolutely necessary that we do this,” Brodsky said. “The Administration and the Congress are placing strong emphasis on strategic planning, performance-based budgeting, and efficient delivery of government services. This is welcome guidance which spurs us to make significant improvements in the way we operate and how we are organized.”
Current events and changes in Defense manpower requirements since the end of the Cold War are also driving the in-depth review, which is dubbed, “Process Improvement Project,” or “PIP-2003.” The role of the SSS in the 21st Century has yet to be adequately defined as the United States continues to depend on all volunteer forces (AVF). Lately, the continuing War on Terrorism, the aftermath of the war in Iraq, and extensive commitment of U.S. troops around the world, have stretched thin the Active and Reserve forces, causing some in the media, academia, and the Congress to call for consideration of a draft. Bills to compel
military and national service were introduced in the House and Senate last January, but the bills will probably not make it through congressional committees. Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who as a congressman was personally involved in ending the draft in favor of the AVF 30 years ago, has said
repeatedly there is “not a chance” that America will need a draft.
In this uncertain climate, the SSS is working diligently to reexamine its statutory missions, reaffirming its relevancy, and making adjustments as necessary to meet the contemporary needs of the Nation. Several facts come to light. For example, while manpower officials believe it is unlikely that a conventional draft of untrained men will be needed in the foreseeable future, there exist critical shortages of individuals with special skills in today’s AVF. SSS officials consulted with Defense planners to learn that medical personnel, computer specialists, and linguists are difficult to recruit and hard to retain. There are also fears that the lengthy and repetitive activations of Guard and Reserve members will boost Reserve Component attrition rates. So a principal objective of PIP-2003 is to shift the Agency’s focus away from maintaining a high state of readiness to execute a large draft of untrained manpower and toward preparing for a much smaller draft of trained personnel possessing critical skills needed for military service in a national crisis. Examining all factors, the smaller, “special skills” draft is the conscription program more likely to be needed by today’s Armed Forces. Of course, reinstatement of a draft of any kind or scope would require legislation from the Congress and direction from the President.
To accomplish the shift in focus, the Agency does not have to start from scratch. For the last 16 years, the SSS has continued its work on a congressionally-directed “structure” to allow for conscription of doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel. The result is called the “Health Care Personnel Delivery System,” or “HCPDS,” which is now nearly complete. It was patterned after the Agency’s existing plan for a conventional draft of untrained men, but would differ in that it would require a mass registration of health care practitioners, ages 20 through 44, followed by selection of individuals for induction to fulfill the numbers and skill requirements the military would need. HCPDS could include women, if the Congress so authorized.
It is generally acknowledged that a “skill-specific” draft would be a smaller draft. Accordingly, through PIP-2003, the SSS is looking at ways to streamline its operations and make its processes more efficient, but will maintain an expansion capability to allow it, if it becomes necessary, to conduct a conventional draft.
To assist the Agency in accomplishing PIP-2003, a contract was awarded to Alpine Magic, Inc., a small firm that specializes in change management and has professional expertise in applying business process review techniques to government entities. The contractor conducted formal training for PIP-2003 participants, facilitated program review sessions, and documented outcomes.
Four core processes were identified as fundamental to accomplishment of the Agency’s missions: register people, call and deliver registrants, reclassify draftees, and administer an alternative service program for conscientious objectors. Additionally, several support processes were also given PIP-2003 attention: maintain personnel (human resource management), manage logistics, manage funds, and provide information technology support. In each of these areas, baseline information was collected and analyzed with regard to time and resources consumed. Then, in a “Process Improvement” phase lasting several months, better ways of doing the activities that make up each process were proposed, discussed, and analyzed by a cross-section of Agency employees, including subject matter experts. Finally, a “to-be” phase of PIP-2003 compared
the current status of Agency programs, identified target goals for effecting change, and established action plans for implementation. Some “no brainer” improvements were implemented immediately; more complicated revisions will occur over time. Among the changes already put into effect were: moving the Records Management function under the Public Affairs umbrella; eliminating the reminder card mailing which uses Department of Defense address lists; scaling back Registration Improvement Program activities in states with supportive driver’s license/SSS registration laws; absorption of the Financial Management Office under Resource Management, and transfer of the functions that would have been performed during a mobilization by the Agency’s Civilian Review Boards to the District Appeal Boards.
Acting Director Brodsky is confident that PIP-2003 will have a positive and lasting influence on the Selective Service System. “Budget trends are forcing us to become ever more frugal, and PIP-2003 is providing us with the blueprint to become more effective and efficient while remaining ready for tomorrow’s potential mobilization missions,” Brodsky noted. “To be honest, not everybody in the Agency will be happy with the outcomes…change is not easy when we’ve grown accustomed to doing things in certain ways. But ‘status quo’ is not an option. We will consolidate many functions, reorganize along process lines at National Headquarters and in the field, move forward with the modernization of our information technology systems, deflate grade structure, eliminate management layers, and make many revisions in the way we organize and train our Board Members and Reserve Officers for their mobilization duties. The result will be a Selective Service System that is better by far.”