USA — Gates: Overhead Savings Would Benefit Warfighters

WASHINGTON, June 28, 2010 — The Defense Depart­ment must find $100 bil­lion in sav­ings over the next five years to ensure U.S. warfight­ers con­tin­ue to have the resources they need to defend the nation now and into the future, Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates said here today.

At a brief­ing today, Gates intro­duced Ash­ton Carter, under­sec­re­tary of defense for acqui­si­tion, tech­nol­o­gy and logis­tics, and spoke about his own com­mit­ment to the effort.

“Over the past month, I’ve direct­ed the Pen­ta­gon to take a hard, unspar­ing look at how the depart­ment is staffed, orga­nized and oper­at­ed,” Gates said. “The pur­pose is to sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduce our over­head costs in order to free up the resources need­ed to sus­tain our force struc­ture, to mod­ern­ize, and to cre­ate future com­bat capa­bil­i­ties.”

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s defense bud­get requests for the next five years reflect the impor­tance of growth for the depart­ment, the sec­re­tary said. While fund­ing for oth­er fed­er­al agen­cies is flat, the Defense Depart­ment is pro­ject­ed for a bit more than 1 per­cent real growth.

But that growth is not enough to ensure ser­vice­mem­bers receive the best equip­ment and mate­ri­als. Gates said the $100 bil­lion in over­head sav­ings he’s work­ing to achieve over the next five years would be put back into the acqui­si­tion process.

“As a mat­ter of prin­ci­ple and polit­i­cal real­i­ty, we must do every­thing pos­si­ble to make every tax­pay­er dol­lar count,” the sec­re­tary said.

Some of the sav­ings will come from elim­i­nat­ing unneed­ed pro­grams and activ­i­ties. Gates already has can­celed a num­ber of under­per­form­ing or unneed­ed projects. “Oth­er sav­ings can be found with­in pro­grams and activ­i­ties we do need, by con­duct­ing them more effi­cient­ly,” he said.

With $400 bil­lion in con­tracts across the depart­ment, Gates said, the Pen­ta­gon must become more effi­cient in the way it buys goods and ser­vices. “Clear­ly, an impor­tant part of achiev­ing that goal is work­ing close­ly with our indus­try part­ners and depart­men­tal con­tract­ing pro­fes­sion­als,” he said. “Like all impor­tant and nec­es­sary insti­tu­tion­al changes, this process will take time. But I’m con­fi­dent we’ll suc­ceed.

“Ulti­mate­ly,” he con­tin­ued, “we as lead­ers in gov­ern­ment owe it to the men and women of our armed forces to do all we can to pro­vide them with the very best sup­port pos­si­ble.”

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