Welcome to DoD Executive Agent Program


DoD Executive Agent (DoD EA) designations are specifics responsibilities, functions, and authorities assigned by the Secretary or Deputy Secretary of Defense to the head of a DoD Component, typically the Secretary of a Military Department.  Each DoD EA designation also assigns an OSD Principal Staff Assistant (PSA) to provide policy oversight and periodically assess the performance and continuing need of the DoD EA designations under their cognizance.  DoD EAs are tasked to provide defined levels of support for either operational or administrative missions that involve two or more DoD Components.  DoD EA designations assign a DoD-wide responsibility to the head of a DoD Component, who does not otherwise have the authority to act in the area of responsibility assigned.  It is important to note that the designation itself does not convey any resources.  The head of a DoD Component serving as DoD EA must plan, program, and budget for the mission in accordance with DoDD 7045.14, "The Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution (PPBE) Process."


DoD EA Policy is formally established by DoD Directive 5101.01, "DoD Executive Agent" (September 2002).  It charges the Director, Administration and Management to: develop, maintain, monitor, revise, and make available to all the DoD Components, a list of DoD EA designations approved by the Secretary or the Deputy Secretary of Defense.  The objective of this policy is to provide discipline to DoD EA designation and offer guidance to DoD Components to execute their responsibilities in an effective and efficient manner.  DoD EAs should not be confused with Combatant Command Support Agents, as defined in DoDD 5100.03, "Support of the Headquarters of the Combatant and Subordinate Unified Commands."


DoD EA designations are most often used when the Secretary of Defense decides a DoD-wide support function or task would be most effectively, economically, and efficiently carried out if assigned to the Secretary of a Military Department.  A less common instance occurs when the head of a DoD Component (typically a Defense Agency or a Combatant Command) has substantial responsibility to execute a very noteworthy task or the function is particularly sensitive and/or complex, as differentiated from its overall organic mission.  In some occasions, Congress directs the establishment of an executive agent.  In these instances, the OCMO will work with DoD Components to determine if the direction qualifies for implementation through DoDD 5101.01 or should be fulfilled by other means.  

Government Accountability Office Review and Report:

In September 2017, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) published "Defense Management: DoD Needs to Improve Its Oversight of Executive Agents." The report recommended the CMO take the following actions:  

  • Strengthen its approach to track DoD EAs to ensure that its list and contact information are current and complete;
  • Verify that the OSD PSAs for all DoD EAs have completed their required assessments every three years; and
  • Issue implementing guidance that OSD PSAs should document the assessments of DoD EAs, including documenting how the assessments address the DoD EAs' continuing need, currency, and effectiveness and efficiency in meeting end-user needs.

Information regarding the PSA Assessment tasking can be found under the "PSA Assessments" section on the left-hand side of this page.