Although the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security are different in many ways, they do share some common challenges – challenges that underscore the need for and importance of priority setting and strategic planning. Both departments are:
- Charged with missions that are vital to the health and welfare of the nation --protecting the American people and our way of life is a mission in which we cannot fail;
- Facing persistent and resourceful enemies;
- Large, complex bureaucracies comprised of a number of diverse and (in some cases, previously independent) organizations with their own cultures, traditions, and ways of doing business);
- Responsible for spending billions of taxpayer dollars as efficiently and effectively as possible;
- Perennially in the position of having more programs to pay for than budget; and
- Trying to balance near-term demands against long-term investments.
These challenges make it that much more important for each department to have a unifying vision, a strategy for achieving its objectives, and a clear set of priorities to guide resource allocation and risk management. It is difficult, if not impossible, to create these absent an effective strategic planning process. And a quadrennial review conducted at the outset of a new administration can be a critical first step in that process.