The Pentagon had the opportunity to save $125 billion by streamlining its bureaucracy, but instead chose to bury the study in order to avoid losing funding from Congress, a Washington Post report reveals.
A Defense Department study from January 2015 showed the Pentagon exactly how to save $125 billion in bureaucratic waste. Instead of following through on the “clear path,” the Pentagon decided to bury the report so as to not risk Congress cutting its budget, according to a report from the Washington Post on Monday.
The report from the Defense Department (DOD) found that roughly one-quarter of the defense budget went to core business operations, or overheads, accounting, human resources and other back-office work, far from the battlefield. That work is completed by about 1,014,000 contractors, civilians and other personnel working to support 1.3 million troops abroad.
Of those 1,014,000 million employees, only 298,000 are uniformed personnel with desk jobs, 448,000 are civilian defense workers, and the remaining 268,000 are contractors.
If that number seems high, it’s because it is. Some of those jobs are part of a nearly one-to-one ratio of back-office employees to soldiers and could have been eliminated, freeing up to $125 billion that could go on troops or rebuilding the nation’s nuclear arsenal, or other defense-related tasks.
However, the plan was killed by the Pentagon who imposed secrecy restrictions on the data, according to the Post.
“They’re all complaining that they don’t have any money. We proposed a way to save a ton of money,” former chairman of the Defense Business Board Robert L. Stein told the Post. This was because of concerns that highlighting bureaucratic waste would only encourage more budget cuts from the White House and Congress.
The Pentagon is taking on $113 billion in budget cuts over four years as a result of the 2011 Budget Control Act, but under baseline budgeting, that means spending will actually increase, just at a slower pace.
The study was ordered by Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work. Work told the Post that while he was originally very supportive of streamlining the bureaucracy in the Pentagon in order to maximize efficiency, he later changed his mind after reviewing the report which he called “unrealistic.”
“There is this meme that we’re some bloated, giant organization,” he said. “Although there is a little bit of truth in that . . . I think it vastly overstates what’s really going on.”
He also said that the Pentagon has adopted some of the suggestions from the report and will save $30 billion by 2020.