In polling 245 top military, civilian, industry and think tank leaders this month, Defense News found that almost none of them expect all of the Pentagonís expected budget efficiencies to materialize. Thatís troubling given the department is banking on saving $94 billion.
In other poll results:
■ One in three donít think DoDís efficiency moves will save a dime.
■ Three out of four say the White House hasnít clarified how it would use the additional $115 billion itís seeking from Congress.
■ Only 36 percent approve of Chuck Hagel as the Pentagonís top civilian, and only 20 percent approve of the way President Barack Obama is performing in the White House.
So what does the poll tell us?
First, while Obama administration officials maintain they worked hard to save as much money as possible, itís simply bad policy to count on theoretical savings as if theyíre real. If hoped-for savings donít materialize, or Congress doesnít come up with more money, experts fear weapons programs will be cut to make up the difference.
Second, when insiders donít believe the story youíre selling, youíve got a big problem ó especially when you have three long years left in your administration.
Unless the administration fixes its credibility gap, its last years in office wonít be as productive as they need to be.
Hagel and his new leadership team have a chance to more clearly and realistically articulate their plans and the consequences of budget cuts that may fundamentally undermine the strategy the administration hopes to execute.