STATEMENT BY THORNBERRY & MCCAIN ON DEFENSE BUSINESS BOARD FINDINGS ON PENTAGON BUREAUCRACY
WASHINGTON – Representative Mac Thornberry (R-TX) and U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, released the following statement today on the Washington Post’s report on the Defense Business Board’s findings concerning Pentagon bureaucracy:
“The Defense Business Board's key findings -- that the Department of Defense could save as much as $125 billion over five years by eliminating unnecessary back-office bureaucracy -- are not a surprise. Nor are the problems identified by the Board new. We have known for many years that the Department's business practices are archaic and wasteful, and its inability to pass a clean audit is a longstanding travesty. The reason these problems persist is simple: a failure of leadership and a lack of accountability.
“That is why, over the past two years, the Senate and House Armed Services Committees have mandated a 25 percent reduction to administrative support functions, a 25 percent reduction to bloated headquarters staffs, a 12 percent reduction to the number of general and flag officers, and a 12 percent reduction to the number of Senior Executive Service civilian employees. The committees also imposed qualification standards for service secretaries and other positions to emphasize the importance of management experience and capability for senior defense leaders. And we have initiated an effort to reform the management of the defense agencies, which have operated for too long with too little scrutiny.
“The Defense Business Board’s report provided valuable data and findings for the committees’ recent work, even if reasonable people can differ over the report’s assumptions about the unique challenge of government reform. However, the reported restrictions imposed on key data relating to this study may have denied taxpayers the transparency they deserve. We urge the Department to take appropriate action to ensure all materials associated with the Defense Business Board study are made publicly available.
“The Senate and Houses Armed Services Committees will carry on the effort to root out and eliminate wasteful spending in the Department of Defense and to redirect savings toward the urgent needs of our warfighters. But make no mistake, reform is not a replacement for sufficient resources. Even if it were possible, achieving every efficiency proposed by the Defense Business Board would not undo the damage of arbitrary defense cuts and the resulting military readiness crisis. That is why we will continue our efforts to end sequestration once and for all and give our men and women in uniform the resources, training, and equipment they need to meet the challenges of a more dangerous world.”