Then-Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley delivers a speech in February. Donley will oversee an effort to downsize staff in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. (Scott M. Ash / Air Force)
WASHINGTON — US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has tapped former Air Force Secretary Michael Donley to oversee a Pentagon downsizing effort to cut the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) headquarters staff by 20 percent over the next five years.
Donley — who stepped down as Air Force secretary in June after five years in the post — will also oversee the reduction of senior-level officials who report directly to Hagel through “consolidating functions” and eliminating positions, a Defense Department spokesman wrote in an email.
Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced Hagel’s selection of Donley to Pentagon officials on Monday.
Donley — who will report to Carter — will develop recommendations for meeting Hagel’s staff reduction targets and an implementation plan, the spokesman said. The downsizing effort is officially called the 2013 OSD Organizational Review.
In July, Hagel said he wanted someone “from outside DoD who is deeply knowledgeable about the defense enterprise and eminently qualified to direct implementation of the OSD reductions.”
OSD grew from 2,433 positions in 2010 to 2,665 position in 2012 — a 9.5 percent increase.
Donley has worked on a number of major DoD reorganization efforts throughout his career. As a Senate Armed Services Committee staffer, he worked on the Goldwater-Nichols DoD reorganization act. He also was a member of the National Security Council staff at the White House during the Reagan administration.
Prior to being named Air Force secretary, Donley was DoD’s director of administration and management, the so-called mayor of the Pentagon.
“Mike has been personally involved in just about every major reorganization effort — particularly as it relates to the Office of the Secretary of Defense,” said Arnold Punaro, a retired Marine Corps major general and former Senate staffer who now chairs the Reserve Forces Policy Board.
Punaro has been one of the loudest critics of the growth within the Pentagon’s headquarters ranks.
“There’s probably no one on the planet that knows more about these organizational issues than Mike Donley,” Punaro said. “He understands how to [make the cuts] in a very deliberate and thoughtful way while still meeting the secretary’s goals.”