How Much is Enough?

Book cover for How Much is Enough

How Much is Enough?

By Alain C. Enthoven, K. Wayne Smith
Harper & Roo, 1971

A work of enduring value and lasting relevance, this book is both a classic account of the application of powerful ideas to the problem of managing the Department of Defense (DoD) and a cautionary history of the controversies inspired by that successful effort. Robert S. McNamara took office in 1961 convinced that the Secretary of Defense, rather than the services, should control the evaluation of military needs and should choose among alternatives for meeting those needs. His device was a new system for allocating defense resources, the Planning, Programming, and Budgeting System (PPBS), which was based on six fundamental ideas:

  1. Decisions should be based on explicit criteria of national interest, not on compromises among institutional forces.
  2. Needs and costs should be considered simultaneously.
  3. Major decisions should be made by choices among explicit, balanced, feasible alternatives.
  4. The Secretary of Defense should have an active analytic staff to provide him with relevant data and unbiased perspectives.
  5. A multiyear force and financial plan should project the consequences of present decisions into the future.
  6. Open and explicit analysis, available to all parties, should form the basis for major decisions.

Most of the decisions that inspired great controversy in the 1960s are taken as bedrock defense policy today, and the methods adopted with such pain have become embedded as the DoD’s approach to defining and resolving issues. 

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