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National Defense > Blog > Posts > Pentagon War on Waste: Winners and Losers
Pentagon War on Waste: Winners and Losers
Winners: Troops in uniform, ship programs, weapons systems that are needed to fight current and future wars.

: Bloated defense and intelligence agencies, redundant bureaucracies, four-star generals and admirals guilty of “brass creep,” report writers, white-collar contractors.

That pretty much sums up the casualty report from the efficiency-campaign bombshells dropped today by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. He is looking for $100 billion in savings from cuts in overhead costs over the next five years.

The Pentagon needs the savings to "sustain a military at war and prepare for future threats," Gates said. There are no plans yet to cut the defense budget top line, but these measures are necessary for the Defense Department to preserve its current force structure and fund modernization programs within the flat budgets projected for the foreseeable future, he said.

“I concluded that our headquarters and support bureaucracies — military and civilian alike — have swelled to cumbersome and top-heavy proportions, grown over reliant on contractors, and grown accustomed to operating with little consideration to cost,” Gates said at a news conference. His office alone has added 1,000 employees during the past decade, with little evidence that the expansion has added any real value, Gates said.

The bureaucratic ballooning and the excessive hiring of white-collar contractors must end, said Gates. 

The efficiency plan includes the following:
• The Pentagon will cut the number of service support contractors by 33,000 by 2015. Funding for service support contractors will be reduced by 10 percent a year for the next three years.
• There will be a freeze on the number of OSD, defense agency and combatant command positions at the 2010 level for the next three years. There will be a “clean sheet review” due Nov. 15 to determine what people should be doing, where and at what level of rank.
• The Pentagon will eliminate 50 general and flag officer positions and 150 senior civilian executive positions over the next two years. This is necessary to end what Sen. John Glenn two decades ago described as “brass creep” — a situation where personnel of higher and higher rank are assigned to do things that could be reasonably handled by personnel of lower rank, Gates said.
• Agencies that oversee information technology will be consolidated.  “Too many parts of the department, especially in the information technology arena, cling to separate infrastructure and processes,” said Gates.
• Reports and studies will be pared down. “This department is awash in taskings for reports and studies,” Gates said. Compared to 37 studies done in 1970s, 700 were produced last year. Nearly 1,000 contractors are employed to write these reports, 200 of whom work full-time. Outside of mandatory reports that Congress directs, the Pentagon needs to stop producing unnecessary studies, said Gates. He is putting a freeze on DoD-required oversight reports and cutting by 25 percent the dollars allocated to advisory studies. Any proposed new study will have to include a cost estimate.
• Advisory boards and commissions will get the ax, too. They currently cost OSD $75 million in staff and indirect costs. Some provide value, but others don’t, said Gates. Funding for these groups will be slashed by 25 percent in 2011.
• Redundant intelligence agencies will be streamlined. “I have directed a zero-based review of the department’s intelligence missions, organizations, relationships and contracts” to be completed by Nov. 1, said Gates.
• Entire organizations will be eliminated, either because they perform duplicative functions or have outlived their original purpose.  Slated for closure during the next six to 12 months are:
     -  The office of the assistant secretary of defense for networks and information integration, which was set up in 2003.          
     -  The Joint Staff J-6 organizations, which also oversee information systems. Responsibilities will be transferred to the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics (AT&L).    
     - The Business Transformation Agency, established in 2006 to modernize business practices. It has 360 employees and spends $340 million a year but does the work that already is being done by other organizations.
     - U.S. Joint Forces Command, which was established to promote inter-service jointness. It employs 2,800 military and civilian workers, in addition to more than 3,000 contractors.


Re: Pentagon War on Waste: Winners and Losers

The transition from a war industry to a peace industry is never easy and, with the defense industry as entrenched as it is, with its tentacles extending into virtually every legislator's district, it is hard to imagine that Secretary of Defense, Gates will succeed. With an intelligence bureaucracy that has yet to manage working in synch, let alone with our Allies' intelligence networks, and a relentless fearmongering that suggests that another 9/11 attack is just around the corner, and a missionary vision that it is the United States duty to proseletize in behalf of a democracy that doesn't work very well within its own borders, it is hard to imagine that Secretary Gates' plan will succeed. Re-instating the draft may at least put an end to the senseless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I wish Mr. Gates luck - and the support of our President, Commander-in-Chief.
Gus Holweger at 8/11/2010 11:27 PM

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