General Perna is the chief operating officer for Warp Speed, which is now taking some flak for the seemingly slow progress of vaccinating for covid-19.
I never had to deal with his problem, but I have been involved in rolling out programs affecting thousands of counties and a million or so people on a crash basis. The difference between his problems and mine were great:
- the visibility to modern media. ASCS/FSA programs were visible to local newspapers, but weren't followed nationally or internationally.
- an organizational structure which reached to the end user, the farmer, and one which had long experience in crash programs, dating back to 1933 when it was first set up.
- a program which usually was similar to previous programs--I can't judge how closely the covid-19 program matches the influenza program but it seems quite different.
- a tick-tock time schedule. Perna's already apologized for screwing this up. My impression is that there weren't sit-down meetings thrashing through every minute step, which could then be documented in a schedule to establish a base of understanding.
- implementation training. Because a vaccine is just a "jab" in the arm which everyone knows how to give, and because the implementers of the Warp Speed hadn't done this before, it was easy to assume (I assume) that no training was necessary. The reality is that training sessions get everyone on the same page, allow for the identification of areas where silos create problems, and permit exchange of ideas.
- as a former directives person, I suspect whatever directives were issued weren't really in a system. Part of the problem seems to be lack of delineated authority, but it's also the human tendency to resist systems--to believe that a memo (or these days an email, etc.) handles the immediate problem, without realizing the proliferation of unsystematic directions can worsen problems.