The best way to hide a cluttered closet is to keep the door closed.
Thankfully for taxpayers, recent revelations exposed that leadership at the Defense Department buried a study they commissioned because it revealed an inconvenient truth that the Pentagon employs too many civilian workers.
The findings of the Defense Business Board’s report did not come as a shock, nor did the resulting attempt to bury it by senior Defense Department officials.
The culture of the Defense Department bureaucracy, which rewards the status quo and provides no incentive for budget efficiency, must change if it is going to meet the evolving challenges of the future.
Sadly it will be the U.S. taxpayer picking up the tab for all the closet stuffing.
As a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, which oversees the Defense Department’s budget, I have noticed an alarming trend in the hearings, testimonies, and budget submissions, the civilian workforce at the Defense Department is enormous.
After researching the historical trends of uniformed service members per civilian employee, I found that we were, and are, at the highest ratio of civilians per uniformed service member in history.
The US is the biggest Manufacturer and Seller The Saudis are the biggest buyers.
I questioned official after official about what I viewed as a bloated civilian bureaucracy that was coming at the cost of troop readiness, procurement and operations and maintenance.
I argued that it defied logic that our uniformed services could be reduced but a commiserate reduction in the civilian workforce was simply not possible.
Time and time again I was told in testimony that the Department needed these civilians and in some instances need more civilians.
Yet behind closed doors, military officials up and down the ranks told me another story.
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I will be the first to say that we have many talented and bright civilian workers who are experts in their fields and we must retain the best and brightest of these individuals. However, I knew from experience and anecdote, that there are thousands of civilian workers who had essentially been warehoused; it is so difficult to fire an ineffective civilian worker that it was easier to strip them of their responsibilities and pay them to do nothing. This is simply unacceptable.
The stakes for our military are simply too high to ignore this problem. Currently, our pilots are flying about half as many hours compared to a decade ago and are essentially flying fewer training hours than Chinese, Indian, and some European military pilots. The Army is protecting current readiness levels at the expense of future modernization and end strength. F-15s are over 30 years old, the B-52s are over 50 years old, while some air tankers are even older resulting in maintenance consuming an increasing amount of taxpayer dollars.
The Army is protecting current readiness levels at the expense of future modernization and end strength. F-15s are over 30 years old, the B-52s are over 50 years old, while some air tankers are even older resulting in maintenance consuming an increasing amount of taxpayer dollars.
After extensive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, aircraft, other platforms, and equipment from all branches of the service need to be replaced. In a world where we face increasing threats from numerous potential adversaries, the demand for capabilities is increasing while our capability advantage is decreasing: 59%
In a world where we face increasing threats from numerous potential adversaries, the demand for capabilities is increasing while our capability advantage is decreasing: 59% fewer combat-coded squadrons, 30% fewer airmen, and 37% fewer aircraft than the Air Force had in 1991.
The nuclear triad needs to be modernized and we have the fewest ships since WWI.
While I’ve been warning of our growing Defense Department bureaucracy for a few years now, I must admit that I underestimated the savings that could be achieved in a five-year window by making modest reforms.
I have no doubt that the $125 billion estimated by the Defense Business Board report is more accurate than the $82.5 billion I originally estimated.
Billions of dollars that must be redirected into our military to shore up shortfalls in readiness, procurement and operations and maintenance.
When I introduced the REDUCE Act, I told the critics that the idea that a federal civilian job once created must live forever is preposterous especially when it comes at the expense of our men and women in uniform. Some of those excess jobs must be thoughtfully eliminated and done so at the legislative mandate of the Congress and at the executive discretion of the Secretary of Defense. It’s time to clean out the closet.