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Thornberry: “We Have Known For Many Years That The Department’s Business Practices Are Archaic And Wasteful”

December 08, 2016

On Monday, The Washington Post reported on a Pentagon study that was done by the Defense Business Board which showed how budget cuts to eliminate wasteful spending could save the department $125 billion. The Washington Post also accused senior officials in the Department of Defense of trying to suppress the findings in the report because they did not want to address the problems within the large bureaucracy. On Tuesday, Congressman Mac Thornberry, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, released a statement along with Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, berating the DoD 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. 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.”

“The Pentagon certainly needs major reform to reduce wasteful spending,” J.D. Gordon, National Security Advisor and former Pentagon spokesman told American Military News. “Acquisitions have squandered countless billions over the decades on next generation platforms that often go nowhere. Cost overruns and delays are the new normal. Meanwhile, the
DoD civilian workforce is severely bloated due to decades of unchecked growth, near impossibility of firing poor performers and automation that has reduced the workload but not the staffs. Who keeps 3-ring binders anymore?”

Rep. Thornberry and Sen. McCain’s statement went on to point out that the Senate and House Armed Services Committees had mandated major reductions in bloated administration support, headquarter staffs, and Senior Executive Service civil employee numbers. It also states that it imposed qualification standards for those who remain employed at the Pentagon to “emphasize the importance of management” because the defense agencies have operated with “too little scrutiny” for too long.

Further, Rep. Thornberry and Sen. McCain add that “even if reasonable people can differ over the report’s assumptions about the unique challenge of government reform,” the DBB’s report provides valuable data and criticized the Pentagon’s attempt at hiding the information.

“However, the reported restrictions imposed on key data relating to this study may have denied taxpayers the transparency they deserve,” the statement reads. “We urge the Department to take appropriate action to ensure all materials associated with the Defense Business Board study are made publicly available.”

On Tuesday, Congressman Mac Thornberry spoke to Fox News about the alleged suppressing of the report, and noted that while The Washington Post made the claim that the Pentagon was trying to suppress the report, Congress was well aware of it and referenced it when developing last year’s spending bill.

“We didn’t bury it,” Rep. Thornberry told Fox News. “As a matter of fact, in last years bill passed by the house, we made specific reference to this report because we’re on two tracks, one is reform so we get more value for the tax payer dollar and the other track is we’ve got to rebuild the military.”