USA — Flournoy: Departmental Efficiencies to Begin at Top

WASHINGTON — Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates’ call last week for more effi­cien­cy and less waste is start­ing at the top, with Pen­ta­gon com­po­nents being told they’ll lead the rest of the depart­ment by exam­ple, the secretary’s top pol­i­cy advi­sor said here today.

“We have been put on notice; we are going to start this review for effi­cien­cies with our­selves,” Michele Flournoy, under­sec­re­tary of defense for pol­i­cy, said dur­ing an appear­ance at the Nation­al Press Club. 

Flournoy said she’s review­ing her own orga­ni­za­tion­al chart to iden­ti­fy how the office can do its job more effi­cient­ly. The ulti­mate ques­tion, she said, is, “Where can we get some sav­ings that we can con­tribute to the pie?” 

“I think every sin­gle [Defense Depart­ment] com­po­nent is going to go through that exer­cise,” Flournoy said. For some com­po­nents, she said, the review will involve “fun­da­men­tal, exis­ten­tial ques­tions: ‘Do we need this par­tic­u­lar orga­ni­za­tion that may have been cre­at­ed 40 years ago in the new world we are in?’ ” 

Flournoy empha­sized that Gates’ May 8 speech at the Eisen­how­er Library in Abi­lene, Kan., was about cut­ting duplica­tive over­head, bloat and need­less spend­ing – not capa­bil­i­ty. “It’s not [about] defense cuts,” she said. “It’s say­ing, ‘We have to become more effi­cient and make bet­ter use of tax­pay­er dol­lars in how we operate.’ ” 

Broad reviews of how the Defense Depart­ment is orga­nized are just one part of the equa­tion, she said. Gates’ man­date also includes reform­ing the acqui­si­tion process, con­serv­ing ener­gy and cre­at­ing greater effi­cien­cies through­out the depart­ment. Sav­ings, she said, would be rein­vest­ed where they are most need­ed to sup­port cur­rent secu­ri­ty needs and to pre­pare for future ones. 

These efforts began with the fis­cal 2010 bud­get, which Flournoy said rep­re­sent­ed a “pret­ty dra­mat­ic set of deci­sions.” The Qua­dren­ni­al Defense Review and fis­cal 2011 bud­get request build on this start, she added. 

Not all the deci­sions have been pop­u­lar with­in the Pen­ta­gon or on Capi­tol Hill, Flournoy conceded. 

Gates has made it clear he will rec­om­mend that the pres­i­dent veto the fis­cal 2011 bud­get if Con­gress adds cost­ly items such as more C‑17 trans­port air­craft to it. “We have got to be able to make choic­es about how to invest our next dol­lar for the nation’s defense needs,” Flournoy said. “We can’t be forced to buy things we don’t need any more.” The defense sec­re­tary, Flournoy said, is putting togeth­er “far-reach­ing plans” aimed at improv­ing effi­cien­cies and pro­vid­ing the depart­ment with the capa­bil­i­ties need­ed in the 21st cen­tu­ry and beyond. Many pro­posed changes, she said, will require con­gres­sion­al approval. 

“We are putting togeth­er a dra­mat­ic reform pack­age for export con­trol reforms to update the sys­tem. We can’t do it with­out Con­gress,” Flournoy said. “We are see­ing to over­haul the way we do secu­ri­ty assis­tance. We can’t do it with­out Con­gress. We need relief on the health-care front, and we absolute­ly have to have Con­gress to help us.” Flournoy turned her atten­tion to what many on Capi­tol Hill have con­sid­ered a sacred cow – mil­i­tary per­son­nel costs, par­tic­u­lar­ly for health care. 

The Unit­ed States has made great progress, par­tic­u­lar­ly since 2001, in clos­ing the gap between mil­i­tary and civil­ian pay, she said, but the prob­lem is that as a show of sup­port for the force, Con­gress has reg­u­lar­ly increased pay over lev­els the admin­is­tra­tion requested. 

“What’s hap­pen­ing, cumu­la­tive­ly, is that we are not con­sid­er­ing the trade­offs,” Flournoy said. This is par­tic­u­lar­ly trou­bling in the health-care are­na, she said, with the Defense Depart­ment extend­ing Tri­care cov­er­age to mil­i­tary retirees. 

“We are now in a sit­u­a­tion where peo­ple in the pri­vate sec­tor for­go their pri­vate-sec­tor ben­e­fits because it is bet­ter for them to stay in Tri­care,” Flournoy said. “Employ­ers are say­ing, ‘Take the mil­i­tary ben­e­fit and then I will give you anoth­er ben­e­fit instead,’ so the gov­ern­ment is car­ry­ing a lot of weight for the pri­vate sec­tor in health care. “If there was an infi­nite pot of mon­ey, that would be fine,” she con­tin­ued. “The prob­lem is there is not an infi­nite pot of mon­ey. So those dol­lars are dol­lars we can’t invest in equip­ment that our mil­i­tary needs today, and in the capa­bil­i­ties they are going to need to adapt to the future.” The long-term impact will be dev­as­tat­ing, she warned. 

“When you look at the bud­get pie over time, the amount of dis­cre­tionary spend­ing avail­able for invest­ment is get­ting small­er and small­er and small­er,” she said. “If we don’t some­how address this trend, you are going to get to a point where you don’t have enough invest­ment dol­lars to equip the force you need.” 

Flournoy said Gates is total­ly “com­mit­ted to the care and sup­port of our mil­i­tary men and women.” How­ev­er, she added, Gates also is con­cerned for the military’s finan­cial future. “He feels this stew­ard­ship part of his job very deeply,” Flournoy said. “But he also feels that part of that is wor­ry­ing about being able to ensure he can equip the force for the future. And we are on a … bad tra­jec­to­ry there. We have some­how got to rebalance.” 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →