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Lawmakers order long-term cost-cutting plan for DoD headquarters staff

Dec. 30, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments
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Under the 2014 NDAA, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and his staff have six months to come up with a plan for streamlining the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, and a host of other leadership offices from 2015 through 2024. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

Congress is pressing the Defense Department to adopt a more ambitious strategy for trimming headquarters bloat.

Under the newly signed 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, the Pentagon has six months to come up with a plan for streamlining the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, and a host of other leadership offices from 2015 through 2024.

The plan is supposed to spell out the expected savings during that 10-year period, starting with its fiscal 2016 budget request. DoD must then provide annual rundowns of the spending reductions resulting from cuts to the ranks of military personnel, civilian employees and contractors, as well as other management changes.

The congressional directive comes after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel earlier this month told subordinates to begin implementing plans for 20-percent manpower and funding cuts to OSD by 2019. Those reductions, which follow from an internal strategic management review, are supposed to save more than $1 billion by 2019, according to Hagel.

Some lawmakers apparently have much more aggressive cost-cutting goals in mind. The provision in the final authorization bill originated in the Senate, which said in its version that the Pentagon’s headquarters reduction plan should save “not less than” $100 billion over ten years. The final compromise measure drops any reference to a dollar target.

Spokesmen for Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., could not be reached for comment on the reason for the change. The size and pricetag for all of the Defense Department’s headquarters’ operations are unclear, but a 2010 review found that the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) alone employed 5,000 civilians, contractors and military personnel.

Besides OSD and the Joint Staff, the plan must cover the headquarters for the National Guard Bureau and combatant commands, the offices of the secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force and the major command headquarters for the military services.

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