Discover the big ideas being explored at this seminal event through the voices of Booz Allen leaders.
Moderator Rich Wilhelm (right) with panelists (R to L) Sanford Levinson, Pamela S. Karlan, Richard H. Pildes, and Jed Rubenfeld
Booz Allen Executive Vice President Rich Wilhelm moderated a panel discussion titled “Our Constitution at a Crossroads: Does the System Need Reform?” at the Aspen Institute’s Aspen Ideas Festival on July 2, 2012. The panel included Pamela S. Karlan, the Harle Montgomery Professor of Public Interest Law at Stanford Law School; Richard H. Pildes, a professor of constitutional law at New York University School of Law; Sanford Levinson, the W. St. John Garwood and W. St. John Garwood, Jr. Centennial Chair at the University of Texas; and Jed Rubenfeld, the Robert R. Slaughter Professor of Law at Yale Law School. Wilhelm shares his observations about the panel discussion below.
Today you talked with constitutional scholars about the possible need for reform of the US Constitution. What were the overriding themes?
Something everybody agreed on is that not only is the political environment polarized, but it’s hyperpolarized to where there is no longer a rational center that has any voice. So the prospect for compromise under the current political party structure is not very optimistic.
It was very interesting that the framers of the Constitution did not anticipate or want the formation of political parties. They wanted different, smaller factions and regions coming together to talk about what was going on and then come up with laws.
The view on the panel was that it is the hyperpolarization of the political system that is more responsible for the problems we have now than anything to do with the checks and balances in our system of government.
How is Booz Allen helping its clients adjust to the uncertain, hyperpolarized political and budget atmosphere?
The short answer is we can provide some historical perspective. Most of the people working in government today have never lived through anything like this before. Has this occurred before? Yes it has. Is what is happening now different than what occurred before? The jury is still out on that. But I think essentially we have one thing now that we didn’t have before: We’ve got this monstrous deficit.
Booz Allen Vice Chairman Mike McConnell (right) and Lt. Gen. Mary Legere
James Steinberg (left) and Peter Singer
Booz Allen Vice Chairman Mike McConnell participated in a panel titled “The Technology of War: What Does the War of the Future Look Like” at the Aspen Institute’s Aspen Ideas Festival on July 1, 2012. The panel was moderated by Steve Inskeep, National Public Radio Morning Edition co-host. In addition to McConnell, the panel included Lieutenant General Mary A. Legere, the senior Army intelligence officer in the Pentagon; Peter Singer, a senior fellow in foreign policy at the Brookings Institutions; and James Steinberg, dean of the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. McConnell, who leads the firm’s cyber business, shares his observations from the discussion below.
So where did this conversation begin, with war or with technology?
Before we started talking about technology, we addressed the question of what war in the future is going to look like. The answer is that in the future, war will look radically different than it has in the past. In fact, it already looks quite different. Recall, the United States has not declared war since World War II. That’s an act of Congress that under the Constitution is reserved to that body. Instead the United States has engaged in conflicts with other nations and with non-state actors without the sort of long lead industrial build up we saw in World War II. That’s another point—there are hostile groups using cyber technology in an attempt to do enormous harm to the United States. Whether those groups are state-sponsored or not, we need to respond appropriately, but those engagements are not war in any traditional sense.
How are cyber attacks and cyber warfare changing the way we prepare to defend the country?
As Lt. Gen. Mary Legere said, there have been significant changes in the operational environment. The threat has expanded from nation states to now include transnational actors and borderless states that seek a different world order. And those enemies have achieved levels of cyber sophistication that threaten our financial, telecommunications, energy, and security infrastructure. With a very small investment, such groups could attack the soft underbelly of the United States. To pick one example: The globe cannot function without a banking system. From a remote location anywhere in the world, an enemy combatant can attack the systems that process and reconcile the transfer of money on the order of seven to eight trillion dollars per day. If the process is sufficiently contaminated or disrupted, business stops—everything stops—because the flow of money is disrupted, confidence is lost, and nobody can be paid.
You’ve mentioned non-state actors. How are other nation states threatening our security?
As the world around us becomes more dependent on the cyber-domain, we need to consider what constitutes warfare inside that environment, and how to secure it. In the past we spent most of our time thinking parameter defense—that is about ways to keep bad guys out. Now we need to consider both outside and inside threats. The Chinese are draining terabits of data out of our industrial complex, particularly research and development, source code, and future business thinking. We are not in a war with them in any traditional sense, so we need to view them as an insider threat seeking to gain competitive advantage without having to invest time and money into their own intellectual insight. What separates the United States from the rest of the world is our innovation, our research and development, new ideas and new thinking. If nation states with cheap labor can steal it at will, they will have our innovation and their cheap labor to out produce us.
Booz Allen Senior Vice President Kevin Vigilante, MD, shares his observations about the Aspen Ideas Festival panel discussion titled “Healthcare and the US Economy.” The panel was moderated by Booz Allen Executive Vice President Jimmy Henry, and panelists included Peter Orszag, vice chairman of global banking at Citigroup; Elizabeth Nabel, president of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and professor of medicine at Harvard; and Martin Gaynor, the E.J. Barone Professor of Economics and Health Policy at the Heinz College of Carnegie Mellon University.
What was the most important point to come out of the conversation?
This panel was able to describe some of the bottom-line items we need to pay attention to in order to constrain costs while maintaining the quality of care. That ultimately drives us to the core question: How do we promote value? That is the crux of the issue.
I would resist the axiom that healthcare quality is compromised every time we reduce costs. A large body of evidence indicates that an enormous amount of care delivered in this country is unnecessary, wasteful and redundant, poorly coordinated, or inefficient. If we can extract that waste, it will both reduce costs and improve the quality of care. The idea that it is somehow a zero-sum game simply isn’t true.
How is Booz Allen engaging with its clients to tackle healthcare costs?
Through our E3 campaign—Enterprise Effectiveness and Efficiency—we deliver both results. Often this involves identifying variations in care. At the first level of cost analysis, we work with clients to understand where the outliers in a given healthcare system are located. That helps our clients zero in on and understand processes that are not being optimized. Cost issues are often a systems engineering problem.
Booz Allen EVP Jimmy Henry (center right) moderated a panel with (L to R) Peter Orszag, Elizabeth Nabel, and Martin Gaynor
Booz Allen Executive Vice President Jimmy Henry moderated a panel titled “Health and the US Economy” at the Aspen Institute’s Aspen Ideas Festival on July 1, 2012. The panelists included Peter Orszag, vice chairman of global banking at Citigroup; Elizabeth Nabel, president of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and professor of medicine at Harvard; and Martin Gaynor, the E.J. Barone Professor of Economics and Health Policy at the Heinz College of Carnegie Mellon University. Henry shares his observations on the topic and the role Booz Allen plays with clients in coping with the changing healthcare landscape.
The panel addressed the question of whether the healthcare sector would drive or drag down the economy. Was that question answered?
This is not an easy topic. These panelists are people who are closer to the problem than anyone else in the United States, so it was encouraging when they said we won’t have this solved tomorrow, but that it’s doable. I thought that was a great takeaway.
What were the most important points to come out of the discussion?
There were a handful. That clearly the country is moving away from a fee-for-service medical system, and toward other models like the risk-sharing system being implemented at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. That in spite of press to the contrary, there has been a deceleration of the growth rate in healthcare spending over the last 10 years. That in some important areas, cost reduction is at hand. Hospitals and insurance companies are meeting the challenges more aggressively and quickly than the average citizen understands. And lastly, what struck me was the degree of optimism shared by the panelists about the potential to gain from these activities.
So this a period of innovation in healthcare delivery?
The fact that things are moving so rapidly at a place like Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Massachusetts, as Dr. Nabel described, is encouraging. They are well down the path of shifting from fee-for-service to risk sharing. It’s a very innovative time both on the ground at places like Brigham and Women’s and in other areas of our healthcare delivery economy, as Peter Orszag and Martin Gaynor pointed out. You wouldn’t know that unless you stopped and asked the question, like we did with the panel.
Booz Allen SVP Peter Trick
Ray LaHood (left) and Richard Florida
Booz Allen Senior Vice President Peter Trick participated on a panel titled “How Can We Create ‘Smart’ Transportation?” at the Aspen Institute’s Aspen Ideas Festival on June 30, 2012. He was joined on the panel by US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, and the discussion was moderated by Richard Florida, who writes and lectures on urban studies at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. Trick shares his impressions from the discussion.
What are you going to remember as the takeaway from today’s panel discussion?
It’s interesting to see in Aspen a crowd that is so supportive of all the various transportation alternatives we have. You could clearly hear in the room big support for high-speed rail, for connected vehicles, for alternative fuel vehicles. That’s gratifying to me.
You’ve been involved with the subject of smart transportation on a national and international level for some time now. How would you say the conversation is evolving?
There are two levels to consider. One is the vitally important conversation that we’re not having yet on changes in the social compact that citizens are going to experience with their transportation infrastructure. The other big conversation is how to pay for transportation and the role of the federal government in a time of national political gridlock.
Please give an example of how the social compact is changing.
All of our roads in the future are going to be toll roads, and that offends many Americans. They want to be able to go anywhere. On the other hand, if this switch ensures an improvement in their quality of life—less congestion, smarter highways, better service, streamlined toll paying—maybe we can arrive at that compromise.
Moderator Roger Cressey (right) with panelists (R to L) Paul Rieckhoff, Dawn Halfaker, and Joe Klein
Booz Allen Senior Vice President Roger Cressey moderated a panel titled “The Uncertain Return: How Is the 21st Century Veteran Doing?” at the Aspen Institute’s Aspen Ideas Festival on June 30, 2012. Panelists Joe Klein, author of the Time magazine cover article The New Greatest Generation; Dawn Halfaker, president of the board of directors of Wounded Warrior Project; and Paul Rieckhoff, founder and executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Cressey shared his observations on the challenges veterans face and Booz Allen’s role in supporting veterans and the organizations designed to assist them.
What were your takeaways from the panel?
When you look at statistics of returning veterans who are unemployed, and the more serious statistics about suicide rates among soldiers and veterans, it is clear that this is a national crisis and we, as a country, are not doing enough to help our veterans right now.
How did the panel address those tough topics?
What we’re seeing is a lot of veterans working at the local level to try and help each other. We’re also seeing that a lot of the programs that have been put into place are great first steps, but more needs to be done. Ultimately, it is individuals, nonprofits, corporations, and communities working together that will make a difference.
So what are some ways to help returning veterans?
One way discussed by the panel is to help veterans enter the workforce quickly by certifying them in the skills they developed while on active duty before they are discharged. For instance, if they worked in the medical profession or transportation during their service, they would be licensed and ready to work in the private sector.
There is also a need for greater urgency on healthcare. We need to find ways for the health community to do more to assist veterans. The mental health aspect is important to discuss, as well. We have individuals with traumatic brain injuries and PTSD. They are not going to come out and volunteer information about their problems. So we’ve got to be creative and proactive in finding ways to solve this.
Booz Allen EVP Jimmy Henry (right) with Alan Greenspan (center) and David Rubenstein on a 2011 Aspen panel
Questions of healthcare and economics reach into every level of American life—at a personal level, in company boardrooms, and on the national stage. Healthcare institutions and the federal government are moving in concert in a number of areas that have profound implications for our overall healthcare system. Innovations in treatment, technology, and electronic health records are driving significant change in the way healthcare is managed and delivered.
With healthcare spending projected to increase by $2 trillion over the coming decade, the role it plays in the economy will continue to expand. Increasingly, it is apparent that a well-performing healthcare system is vital to our economic prosperity.
On July 1, at the 2012 Aspen Ideas Festival, Booz Allen Executive Vice President Jimmy Henry will examine possible answers to the question “Will the Healthcare Sector Drive or Drag Down the US Economy?” when he moderates a panel discussion on healthcare and economics with experts from academia, the healthcare sector, and the banking industry.
We invite you to examine some of the latest thinking at Booz Allen on this and related issues:
Booz Allen’s long-standing support for America’s veterans, both in its hiring practices and in its development of programs designed to help military personnel make the transition to civilian life, is part of what makes it so exciting to ponder the 2012 Aspen Ideas Festival panel titled “The Next Greatest Generation: How Is the 21st Century Veteran Doing?”
On June 29, Booz Allen Senior Vice President Roger Cressey will moderate a panel that includes Joe Klein, author of the Time magazine cover article The New Greatest Generation; Dawn Halfaker, president of the board of directors of Wounded Warrior Project; and Paul Rieckhoff, founder and executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
Less than 1 percent of the population has served in the military, and even fewer in Afghanistan and Iraq, but the return of veterans from war has a ripple effect that is much greater than that 1 percent. What is the tangible—and intangible—effect of multiple tours on our veterans and the people and communities they come home to?
Cressey will lead a conversation that examines how veterans survive and deal with wounds—physical, emotional, psychological—once they’re home; how military families are affected; the organizations that support veterans; and whether enough is being done to help them find employment, healthcare, and other basics.
Booz Allen’s deep support for the nation’s military community began at the dawn of World War II with our first engagement with the US Navy and continues today in our commitment to hiring and developing veterans, the work we do with the Department of Defense, and the support we provide through community outreach and engagement.
Elliot Gerson is an executive vice president at the Aspen Institute, responsible for its Policy and its Public Programs and its relations with international partners. Along with Aspen Institute CEO Walter Isaacson and VP Kitty Boone, he helped conceive of the Aspen Ideas Festival and each year he helps develop and put it on. He spoke with Booz Allen on June 6 about the firm and its role at the Aspen Ideas Festival, along with other topics.
Booz Allen: The Aspen Ideas Festival is a huge undertaking. Why does the Aspen Institute put on the Festival each year?
Elliot Gerson: Eight years ago, we started thinking about ways we could open up the doors of the Aspen Institute to a broader public. We thought that the kinds of things we do at the Institute and the method with which we engage could be of great interest and value to the broader public. The answer we came up with was to create an Ideas Festival.
So is the Aspen Ideas Festival an original idea in its own right, or did you model it after some other festival?
When Walter Isaacson talked about this to me for the first time, we had no preconceptions of what an Ideas Festival would look like. We’d all been to music festivals and art festivals, but no one had ever been to an Ideas Festival.
First, there were a number of questions to answer: Who’s going to participate? What kind of programs are we going to have? Are they going to be lectures? Are they going be conversations? Is the Festival going to be about a single topic each year or multiple topics, changing every year?”
We then engaged with our initial sponsors, particularly Booz Allen, and came up with a format that worked beyond our expectations.
Booz Allen SVP Peter Trick (right) with Newark Mayor Corey Booker at the 2011 Aspen Ideas Festival
Will a combination of high-tech (bullet trains, light rail, etc.) and low-cost (biking, walking) transportation options define the city of the future in order to reduce congestion and air pollution? Will automobiles be left behind? What factors will influence the evolution of transportation?
Booz Allen Senior Vice President Peter Trick will address those and related questions with US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood on a panel moderated by Richard Florida, on Saturday, June 30, at the 2012 Aspen Ideas Festival.
At a fundamental level, America may need to re-imagine the infrastructure at the heart of its mobile society—not simply repair it—in order to serve the long-term interests of the nation. Some of Booz Allen’s infrastructure experts provide a sense of just how big a task this will be in the short video “Great 8 Infrastructure Principles.”
To make meaningful changes in the way Americans get around, the Booz Allen study “Beyond Mobility: A New Strategy for Sustainable Transportation” suggests that we as a society must first grasp the economic, environmental, and societal costs and benefits of our mobility. The paper contains some of the strategies Trick and LaHood will broach during their discussion at the Aspen Ideas Festival.
Other resources for this important topic include:
For the eighth year now, Booz Allen is sponsoring and participating in the Aspen Ideas Festival, which is presented by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic magazine. This is both a privilege and an opportunity.
It’s privilege because the Aspen Institute, like Booz Allen, is about ideas. We are one of just two organizations, along with Ernst & Young, that have sponsored the Ideas Festival since its inception in 2005. Our commitment to this remarkable and unique event runs deep, and reflects the firm’s long-standing relationship with the Aspen Institute, which hosts the festival on its campus in Aspen.
From June 27 through July 3, we will have a unique opportunity to converse with leaders in business, government, academics, and the arts about solutions to the very real challenges we face today in the nation and the world. We’ll bring our ideas to the table, present them to the test of these great minds, and put them to the test. I can say that every year, we bring back five to ten new ideas from Aspen to employ with our clients on the challenges we are tackling together.
This year, Booz Allen leaders will either moderate or participate in panels that address the challenges of modern democracy, veterans in the 21st century, transportation, women in the military, healthcare and the economy, and waging war in the future. I am excited to see what comes out of those discussions and other interactions with the world’s thought leaders.
Please join us on this blog over the coming weeks. Think of it as Booz Allen’s channel into the Aspen Ideas Festival. We’ll share video and written coverage online of the events, and our perspectives. I also encourage you to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more insight and regular updates.
EVP leading the firm's Intelligence business.
Vice Chairman leading the firm's cyber capabilities.
EVP and leader in the firm's Emerging Technologies and Mission Solutions initiatives in Booz Allen’s Strategic Innovation Group.
Retired Executive Vice President who leads the civil business.
SVP leading consulting services to government health care clients.