The Department of Defense (DOD) commissioned, then buried a report disclosing billions in bureaucratic and contractor waste, and showed a “clear path” to how the department could save $125 billion by 2020, the Washington Post reports.
“We are spending a lot more than we thought,” the report from the Defense Business Board, released publicly Jan. 22, 2015, says. The report does not appear on the Defense Business Board’s list of reports for 2015, and sources told the Washington Post that top Pentagon officials wanted to keep the report quiet to avoid Congress from docking their annual budget.
The report said it could capture $125 billion in potential savings through trimming down unneeded bureaucracy, renegotiating contracts and improving information management to be less labor intensive.
For example, in DOD’s acquisition and procurement team, more people work buying weapons and supplies for the military (207,000) than work at every Starbucks in the United States (198,000 as of 2015).
But top defense officials disagree that $125 billion could be saved so easily.
“There is this meme that we’re some bloated, giant organization,” Robert Work, deputy defense secretary of defense, said to the Washington Post. “Although there is a little bit of truth in that . . . I think it vastly overstates what’s really going on.” (RELATED: Feds Waste $87 BILLION Ignoring Inspector General Recommendations)
When the Defense Business Board presented the report to Frank Kendall III, the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer, he was disappointed.
The $125 billion, Kendall said to the Post, did not make sense, “It was essentially a ballpark, made-up number.”
“If the impression that’s created is that we’ve got a bunch of money lying around and we’re being lazy and we’re not doing anything to save money, then it’s harder to justify getting budgets that we need,” Kendall said.
When defense officials call out unnecessary overhead publicly, the backlash can be severe. In July 2015, Ray Mabus, secretary of the Navy, told the American Enterprise Institute that several agencies could be eliminated as “pure overhead.” That got Work’s attention, who asked Mabus to refrain from talking about agencies in the public like that.
Emails obtained by the Washington Post show the conversation grow quickly
“I did not say anything yesterday that I have not said both publicly . . . and privately inside this building,” he said. “There have been numerous studies, which I am sure you are aware of, pointing out excessive overhead.”
That prompted a stern intervention from Work.
“Ray, please refrain from taking any more public pot shots,” Work said in an email. “I do not want this spilling over into further public discourse.”
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