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Pentagon Makes Slow Progress with Efficiency Efforts

Mar. 8, 2012 - 03:13PM   |  
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A Pentagon quest to chop $178 billion between 2012 and 2016 by getting leaner and instituting better business practices has hit a few speed bumps, but is advancing, according to the U.S. Defense Department’s top budget official.

DoD has started organizing the implementation plan for the first part of its so-called efficiencies initiative.

“We now have specific plans, targets; we have people assigned for responsibility for making them happen,” Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale said after a speech at a conference sponsored by McAleese and Associates and Credit Suisse in Arlington, Va.

In its 2012 budget, the Pentagon identified $178 billion in so-called efficiency savings. From those savings, then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates planned to reinvest $100 billion in high-priority programs.

But that reinvestment strategy has gone by the wayside since the Pentagon was subsequently told to cut $487 billion between 2013 and 2023 as mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011.

“A year ago, we tried to reinvest it,” Hale said. “I think that’s pretty much gone with the Budget Control Act, a lot of that is now out of the budget.”

DoD’s 2013 budget request, which was sent to Congress last month, includes an additional $60 billion in efficiency savings between 2013 and 2017.

The Pentagon has had difficulties in achieving efficiency savings in the area of capping civilian personnel and eliminating contract workers. If the services cannot achieve its efficiency goals, they will have to come up with the savings, likely from investment accounts, Hale said.

“They have pretty strong incentive,” he said. “We’ve set up a governance process in the Office of the Secretary of Defense [and] I’ve joined with the deputy chief management officer for doing periodic reviews. I won’t say it’s all perfect.”

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