USA — Gates Puts Meat on Bone of Department Efficiencies Initiative

WASHINGTON, Aug. 9, 2010 — Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates is putting meat on the bones of his ini­tia­tive to reform the way the Pen­ta­gon does busi­ness and to elim­i­nate duplica­tive, unnec­es­sary over­head costs.

Dur­ing a Pen­ta­gon news con­fer­ence today, Gates said the steps he is tak­ing will help the U.S. mil­i­tary fight the wars it faces now, and help ready the force for the wars it may face in the future. With these moves, the sec­re­tary said, he wants to instill a cul­ture of sav­ing in the depart­ment.

Mon­ey saved with these effi­cien­cies will go back into fund­ing need­ed mil­i­tary capa­bil­i­ties. “To be clear, the task before us is not to reduce the department’s top-line bud­get,” Gates said. “Rather, it is to sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduce its excess over­head costs and apply the sav­ings to force struc­ture and mod­ern­iza­tion.”

Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma has pro­grammed in real growth of between 1 and 2 per­cent into future years’ defense bud­gets, but that is not enough to main­tain today’s warfight­ing capa­bil­i­ties and mod­ern­ize, which requires rough­ly 2 to 3 per­cent real growth. The sav­ings in over­head are cru­cial to mak­ing up that dif­fer­ence, Gates said.

Ear­li­er this year, the sec­re­tary tasked the ser­vices to find $100 bil­lion in over­head sav­ings over the next five years. “This exer­cise is well under way, as the ser­vices are eval­u­at­ing their pro­grams and activ­i­ties to iden­ti­fy what remains a crit­i­cal pri­or­i­ty and what is no longer afford­able,” he said. “They are all plan­ning to elim­i­nate head­quar­ters that are no longer need­ed and reduce the size of the staffs that remain.”

Gates also autho­rized the ser­vices to con­sid­er con­sol­i­da­tion or clo­sure of excess bases and oth­er facil­i­ties. It is a mea­sure of Gates’ deter­mi­na­tion to save mon­ey that he has pro­posed this, he not­ed, since Con­gress has made it almost impos­si­ble to close bases. “But hard is not impos­si­ble, and I hope Con­gress will work with us to reduce unnec­es­sary costs in this part of the defense enter­prise,” he said.

The sec­re­tary also announced a num­ber of imme­di­ate steps he will take. Gates said he will reduce the fund­ing for sup­port con­trac­tor per­son­nel by 10 per­cent a year for the next three years.

Gates is freez­ing the num­ber of office of the sec­re­tary of defense, defense agency and com­bat­ant com­mand man­pow­er posi­tions at the fis­cal 2010 lev­els for the next three years. He said this is just a first step to study­ing these lead­er­ship orga­ni­za­tions.

“We will con­duct a ‘clean-sheet review’ to deter­mine what our peo­ple should be doing, where, at what lev­el of rank in keep­ing with the department’s most crit­i­cal pri­or­i­ties,” he said.

He is also freez­ing the num­ber of senior Defense Depart­ment lead­ers at fis­cal 2010 lev­els. He will appoint a senior task force to assess the num­ber of posi­tions for gen­er­al and flag offi­cers, senior exec­u­tive ser­vice employ­ees and polit­i­cal appointees. “At a min­i­mum, I expect this effort to cut at least 50 gen­er­al and flag offi­cer posi­tions and 150 senior civil­ian exec­u­tive posi­tions over the next two years,” he said.

Gates also pushed the poten­tial for economies of scale – espe­cial­ly in the infor­ma­tion tech­nol­o­gy are­na.

“All of our bases, oper­a­tional head­quar­ters and defense agen­cies have their own IT infra­struc­tures, process­es and appli­ca­tion-ware,” Gates said. “This decen­tral­ized approach results in large cumu­la­tive costs, and a patch­work of capa­bil­i­ties that cre­ate cyber vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties and lim­it our abil­i­ty to cap­i­tal­ize on the promise of infor­ma­tion tech­nol­o­gy.” The sec­re­tary direct­ed the depart­ment to increase the use of com­mon infor­ma­tion tech­nol­o­gy func­tions.

The Pen­ta­gon is awash in reports; the sec­re­tary is freez­ing the over­all num­ber of required over­sight reports, and he will imme­di­ate­ly cut by a quar­ter the mon­ey allo­cat­ed to the effort.

The depart­ment sim­i­lar­ly has a num­ber of boards and com­mis­sions that have out­lived their use­ful­ness. He direct­ed that the depart­ment elim­i­nate those boards no longer need­ed and an over­all fund­ing cut of 25 per­cent for these boards.

The sec­re­tary also is look­ing for effi­cien­cies in the department’s intel­li­gence appa­ra­tus. He has direct­ed an imme­di­ate 10 per­cent reduc­tion in fund­ing for intel­li­gence advi­so­ry and assis­tance con­tracts and a freeze in the num­ber of senior exec­u­tive ser­vice posi­tions. He also is mov­ing to end need­less dupli­ca­tion in the intel busi­ness.

“I have direct­ed a zero-based review of the department’s intel­li­gence mis­sions, orga­ni­za­tions, rela­tion­ships and con­tracts to be com­plet­ed by Nov. 1,” Gates said. James Clap­per, the new direc­tor of nation­al intel­li­gence, has expressed inter­est in doing the same for civil­ian intel­li­gence orga­ni­za­tions, the sec­re­tary said.

Final­ly, the sec­re­tary is clos­ing two defense offices and rec­om­mend­ing the clo­sure of a com­bat­ant com­mand. The sec­re­tary is elim­i­nat­ing the offices of the assis­tant sec­re­tary of defense for net­work inte­gra­tion and the Joint Staff’s sec­tion for com­mand, con­trol, com­mu­ni­ca­tions, and com­put­er sys­tems. “Their oper­a­tional func­tions will be assigned to oth­er orga­ni­za­tions, and most of their acqui­si­tion func­tions will trans­fer to acqui­si­tion, tech­nol­o­gy and logis­tics,” Gates said.

Gates also will elim­i­nate the Busi­ness Trans­for­ma­tion Agency. The agency – with 360 peo­ple and a bud­get of $340 mil­lion – will trans­fer respon­si­bil­i­ties to oth­er offices. The sec­re­tary is rec­om­mend­ing elim­i­nat­ing U.S. Joint Forces Com­mand. The com­mand is the arbiter and pro­po­nent for joint train­ing, doc­trine and oper­a­tions in the mil­i­tary, he said, but it means an extra lay­er in the bureau­cra­cy. It is one of five four-star com­mands that need to be involved in send­ing a mil­i­tary work­ing dog team to Afghanistan, Gates said dur­ing a speech in Abi­lene, Kan., ear­li­er this year.

But dri­ven by joint expe­ri­ence in Afghanistan, Iraq and around the world, the sec­re­tary not­ed, the need for such a joint advo­cate has less­ened. Train­ing and gen­er­at­ing joint forces still is impor­tant, as is devel­op­ing and test­ing joint doc­trine. But it does not “require a sep­a­rate four-star com­bat­ant com­mand, which, in the case of [Joint Forces Com­mand] entails about 2,800 mil­i­tary and civil­ian posi­tions and rough­ly 3,000 con­trac­tors of all kinds at an annu­al cost of at least $240 mil­lion to oper­ate,” Gates said.

The sec­re­tary said the depart­ment will help employ­ees affect­ed by these clos­ings.

Gates also wants mil­i­tary per­son­nel and civil­ians to think out­side the box. He wants them to sub­mit their ideas for sav­ing resources, reduc­ing the lay­ers of the orga­ni­za­tions and elim­i­nat­ing dupli­ca­tion and over­head.

“With­in the depart­ment, we are launch­ing an online con­test for the pur­pose of solic­it­ing and reward­ing cre­ative ideas to save mon­ey and use resources more effec­tive­ly,” he said. “I would encour­age all DoD employ­ees to vis­it ‘’ on the Web to learn more.”

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

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