The Pentagon should not count on achieving the $238 billion in planned savings over the next five years from initiatives to operate more efficiently, two Washington defense analysts said.
Historically, “efficiencies typically have yielded only a small fraction of the projected savings,” Andrew Krepinevich, president of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), said at a June 21 briefing in Washington.
The Pentagon’s 2012 budget request identified $178 billion in efficiencies over five years. DoD’s 2013 budget request targeted an additional $60 billion in efficiencies over a five-year period.
It is very difficult to measure how much efficiency has been achieved over the years “because one man’s efficiencies are another man’s … budget cut,” Todd Harrison, an analyst at CSBA, said at the same briefing.
“It’s hard to measure how much efficiencies have actually saved,” he said.
Some of the efficiencies are considered high risk by Pentagon budget officials, Harrison said, meaning they will likely not achieve the desired savings.
“To achieve that full number [$238 billion] … you have to have a perfect success rate in all these efficiency initiatives,” Harrison said. “The likelihood of that happening is low.”
In March, Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale said DoD had 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,” he said at the time.
But, Hale noted that the Pentagon 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, he said.