DOD Asks Congress to Aid Efficiency Efforts
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 19, 2013 The Defense Department continues to work to be a good steward of the American people’s money, the Pentagon’s top financial official told Congress today.
The department continues to look for better and cheaper ways to do assigned missions, Robert F. Hale, the DOD comptroller and chief financial officer told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
For years, DOD has included “steps to curtail or eliminate programs where we felt we had met our procurement needs, or where programs were seriously troubled or provided capabilities that were judged too narrow to justify their expense,” Hale said.
“While these proposals are often referred to as efficiencies, they are better described as efforts to make more disciplined use of resources,” he added.
The department has worked to end weapons programs, eliminate lower-priority organizations and improve business processes, Hale noted. The department has restructured or eliminated 20 different systems, he added. For example, he said, DOD eliminated the VH-71 presidential helicopter, the Navy’s DDG-1000 ship program and the second engine program for the joint strike fighter.
DOD also ended the Army’s Future Combat System and the Marine Corps’ Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, he said, which will be replaced by a more focused ground combat vehicle and amphibious combat vehicle development. In the Air Force, the department ended the F-22 and C-17 aircraft programs, both of which had met their inventory objectives, Hale said.
These initiatives and many others led to planned savings in the president’s budget for fiscal year 2012 of about $150 billion between 2012 and 2016. Another $60 billion was reported in the fiscal 2013 budget, which has not been passed.
The department also is working to slow the growth of military compensation, Hale said.
“Military pay and benefits have grown sharply in recent years, outstripping both end-strength growth and wage growth in the private sector,” he said. “DOD has proposed initiatives to raise by modest amounts the fees that military retirees pay for health care and to modify pharmacy co-pays in a manner that promotes use of cheaper alternatives, including generic-brand pharmaceuticals and mail order delivery.”
DOD tried to slow the growth in military basic pay in 2015 and beyond. This would have saved the government about $29 billion over five years. “More recently, we announced a plan to slow the growth in military basic pay for 2014,” Hale said. “Finally, in its [fiscal] 2013 budget, DOD proposed to eliminate some lower-priority military units. Our proposals would have disestablished certain Army units, cut back on selected Air Force aircraft, and retired nine Navy ships early.”
And the department hopes to continue finding and acting on these efficiencies, Hale said.
“DOD can propose, but Congress must dispose,” Hale told the House panel. “We need the support of Congress in our efficiency efforts. In recent years, Congress has denied a number of our proposals, including elimination of lower-priority weapons programs and elimination of lower-priority military units.”
Congress also rejected DOD proposals to slow the growth in military compensation, he noted.
“Together, these congressional actions, if sustained, will add billions to our costs over the next five years,” Hale said. “We hope that, in view of the serious economic problems facing our nation, the Congress will allow us to implement these and other important changes.”