National Security

Congress To Investigate Alleged $125 Billion Of Waste By Pentagon

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter

Congress has requested information from the Pentagon pertaining to an alleged waste of $125 billion by Department of Defense (DOD) bureaucracy.

The House Committee on Government Reform sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter Thursday, asking why his department failed to adopt a “clear path” that would save $125 billion in administrative costs over five years.

The Defense Business Board (DBB), which was commissioned by DOD and made up of consultants and corporate executives, discovered the potential savings after an exhaustive study of the department’s “enormous back-office bureaucracy.”

“We question why learning about potential savings that would be enough to ‘cover operational costs for 50 Army brigades, or 3,000 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters for the Air Force, or 10 aircraft-carrier strike groups for the Navy,’ would not also be a priority,” the letter said, which was signed by 31 bipartisan members of the committee.

Carter did not meet with one of the DBB members to discuss the savings plan, claiming he was busy dealing with “a long list of national security challenges.”

While the Pentagon’s inefficiency is well known, the DBB report raises questions to its applicability. First, the report claims that the “clear path” plan “would not have required layoffs of civil servants or reductions in military personnel.”

Additionally, a large amount of the proposed savings are based on nebulous recommendations regarding “process improvement.” For example, the DBB suggests the Pentagon can save billions by increasing bureaucracy productivity by 4 to 8 percent per year.

The DBB members essentially try to apply private sector standards to the country’s largest government agency, as Kevin Drum noted in Mother Jones Tuesday,

The DBB also seems to have unrealistic expectations regarding the proposed reforms. The board suggests the Pentagon can reform its notoriously inefficient contracting system in as little as eight months. They expect this from the same organization that has yet to fix all the problems associated with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, which just entered its 15th year.

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