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House Armed Services chair Thornberry wants to cut 25 percent in Pentagon ‘overhead’ bureaucracy spending

U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, then-Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), questions senior military leaders during a HASC hearing on Capitol Hill, March 7, 2017. (DoD Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. James K. McCann)
April 19, 2018

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry unveiled a proposed bill Tuesday that would cut 25 percent in spending from dozens of Pentagon support agencies in order to cut out unneeded bureaucracy.

Speaking to the media, Thornberry said the proposed bill – the Comprehensive Pentagon Bureaucracy Reform and Reduction Act – would cut spending for the “Fourth Estate,” which is made up of 28 Defense Department agencies that employ 200,000 civilian personnel and 600,000 contractors.

The agencies make up roughly $100 billion of defense spending each year. The bill would cut the budget of the Fourth Estate by $25 billion by 2021 and would result in thousands of civilian personnel and contractors losing their jobs.

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The Fourth Estate includes commissaries, combat support agencies and field activities, and military media outlets.

Thornberry said several agencies would largely be untouched, including the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Defense Health Agency, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency.

The legislation would eliminate the Defense Test Resource Management Center, the Defense Technical Information Center, Office of Economic Adjustment, the Defense Technology Security Administration, the Defense Human Resource Activities, the Defense Information Systems Agency and Washington’s Headquarters Services.

“All of the savings and efficiency have to stay within [the Defense Department] to get more capability into the war fighter faster,” Thornberry said. “To summarize the whole thing from my perspective, it is to reduce the overhead to put more resources at the tip of the spear.”

The legislation is intended for the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act.

“If I’m not making somebody nervous, I’m not doing anything,” Thornberry said regarding the cutbacks. “We’ve got to have a culture that is willing to be disruptive if we are going to adequately defend the nation.”

The Defense Department’s chief management officer would receive a new position and create a plan on how to make cuts by early next year.