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DoD Budget Recommendations Under Fire

Last month, the Defense Business Board released a package of recommendations that outlined several cost-cutting methods in which the department could free up money in its budgets.

The set of proposals, which followed Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' call to tighten the defense spending budget, immediately went under attack by legislators who claimed that some of the recommendations were illogical and problematic.

The proposals included suggestions to cut DoD’s civilian work force by 15 percent, imposing a top-down hiring freeze and closing Joint Forces Command, which employs thousands in the Norfolk, Virginia, area.

The day after the proposals were submitted, six members of the Virginia congressional delegation argued the recommendations.

“There may be merit in tightening the structure of various commands within the individual services that interact with the Joint Forces Command,” said the six legislators in a statement. “But it is illogical for an independent Pentagon advisory board to recommend that we undo what our nation has worked so hard to achieve in military jointness over the past two decades.”

The set of proposals took aim at JFCOM due to its heavy involvement with contractors, who make up more than half the work force. There are currently more than 6,000 civilian workers, military personnel and contract employees involved with JFCOM.

According to FederalTimes.com, the recommendations are a prelude to a more comprehensive cost-cutting blueprint set for release in October. In comparison to this year’s $531 billion base defense budget, the savings would likely be modest.

Todd Harrison, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, explained that some of the proposal’s recommendations have a strong chance of being considered, such as closing the Networks and Information Integration directorate in the Office of Secretary of Defense and reducing the frequency of duty station moves.

“If they can show that it’s a shared sacrifice and for a good reason, I think they might have a little more success in getting this through,” he said.

The board also scrutinized DoD’s use of contractors. It suggested that spending on outside firms should be frozen until an accurate count is made.

This was a concern of the Quadrennial Defense Review independent panel as well in their report recently released to Congress.

The independent panel found that “there is no defined regular process within the acquisition structure and process to address urgent needs in support of current combat operations,“ and recommended “special processes and organizations“ be developed and implemented to meet urgent force requirements.

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