On Monday, The Washington Post revealed that the Pentagon made a concerted effort to conceal an internal study which showed the Department of Defense spent $125 billion in administrative waste in order to keep Congress from slashing their budget. Pentagon leaders has reportedly requested the study in order to clean up their “back-office bureaucracy” to make it more efficient, but the results led to mounds of evidence that the department was engaged in a tremendous amount of wasteful spending. Senior defense officials promptly motioned to suppress and discredit the findings so lawmakers wouldn’t deem it necessary to slash the upcoming defense spending budgets.
The report obtained by The Washington Post shows that in January 2015 there was a “clear path” for the Defense Department to save $125 billion over the course of five years without having to layoff civil servants or military personnel to do so. The plan would have only required the department to curtail high-priced contractors, improve its I.T., and do some meddling with early retirement. The report produced by the Defense Business Board last year showed that the Pentagon was spending about a quarter of it’s $580 bill budget on core business operations and overhead.
Among a slew of information, the report detailed that the Defense Department was paying slightly more than one million contractors, civilian employees and uniformed personnel to fill back-office roles. With the amount of active duty troops currently at 1.3 million, the lowest since 1940, the numbers employed in the offices and in the military are just about equal.
For fear the study would expose their claim that the budget sequestration hurt military spending, Pentagon officials worked hard to conceal the findings, so much so that they placed security restrictions on information used in the study and pulled a summary report from the Pentagon website.
“They’re all complaining that they don’t have any money,” former DBB chairman Robert Stein told the Post. “We proposed a way to save a ton of money.”
“There is this meme that we’re some bloated, giant organization,” Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work, who originally ordered the study said. “Although there is a little bit of truth in that … I think it vastly overstates what’s really going on.”
On Tuesday, Representative Mac Thornberry (R-TX) and U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, released a statement about the DBB’s findings.
“The Defense Business Board’s key findings — that the Department of Defense could save as much as $125 billion over five years by eliminating unnecessary back-office bureaucracy — are not a surprise,” the statement read. “Nor are the problems identified by the Board new. We have known for many years that the Department’s business practices are archaic and wasteful, and its inability to pass a clean audit is a longstanding travesty. The reason these problems persist is simple: a failure of leadership and a lack of accountability.”
After addressing proposed policies, the statement says that “even if it were possible, achieving every efficiency proposed by the Defense Business Board would not undo the damage of arbitrary defense cuts and the resulting military readiness crisis.” Adding that “is why we will continue our efforts to end sequestration once and for all and give our men and women in uniform the resources, training, and equipment they need to meet the challenges of a more dangerous world.”