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Biennial Review of the Defense Agencies and the DoD Field Activities

Section 192(c) of Title 10, U.S. Code, states that “periodically (and not less often than every two years), the Secretary of Defense shall review the services and supplies provided by each Defense Agency and Department of Defense Field Activity.”  The statute establishes two purposes for the periodic review to ensure: 

  1. There is a continuing need for each such Agency and Field Activity, and
  2. The provision of those services and supplies by each such Agency and Activity, rather than by the Military Departments, is a more effective, economical, or efficient manner of providing those services and supplies or of meeting the requirements for the combat readiness of the armed forces.

While the Biennial Review historically looks back at the previous two-year period, in actuality, the Secretary and the Department fulfill the requirements of Section 192(c) on a near-continuous basis through a myriad of governance bodies, ongoing processes, episodic reform and efficiency initiatives, and other oversight activities, as well as the attendant senior leader decisions.  Normally, the DCMO formally records fulfillment of Section 192(c) requirements every two years since 1987 through the Secretary of Defense Biennial Review of Defense Agencies and DoD Field Activities.

Visit the Biennial Review Report Library (CAC required)

For the 1997-1998 through 2003-2004 Biennial Reviews, an organizational customer survey of each agency and activity served as the primary focus.  Starting with the 2005-2006 Biennial Review, the major focus alternated between a senior management assessment and an organizational customer survey of agency and activity customers.  Accordingly, surveys were used in the 2007-2008 cycle, but were purposely not used in the 2005-2006 effort.  The alternating methodology was intended to align customer feedback with major Departmental milestones, such as the Quadrennial Defense Review and leadership transitions.

Due to potential duplication of effort, the 2009-2010 Biennial Review did not focus on a senior management assessment, but rather leveraged Section 192(c) relevant information distilled from the DoD Efficiency Initiatives directed by then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.  Similarly, the 2012 Biennial Review did not contain results of an organizational customer survey due to timing and funding constraints but focused on input from the Major DoD Components regarding their recent Section 192(c) activities.  Effort on the 201 Biennial Review was suspended pending the completion of related, Secretary of Defense initiatives.  Now resumed, and planned for completion in 2016, the Biennial Review will record Section 192(c) relevant activity and a number of related reform and efficiency initiatives that also touch on broader “Fourth Estate” management activities including OSD.  

Additional key points about the Biennial Review:  No other review or process provides the information contained in the Biennial Review;  it does not interfere with the Combat Support Agency Review Teams conducted by J-8 on behalf of the Chairman or any other review headed by the OSD Principal Staff Assistants;  Biennial Review reports are kept as simple and low cost as possible—concentrating on substance;  although the Biennial Review is not a Congressional report, a copy is provided to the Government Accountability Office upon their request.