Wasteful spending is nothing new to government, but when one quarter of the budget of any particular government agency is tagged as being egregiously wasteful, alarm bells start going off.
This is the case over at the Pentagon.
The Defense Business Board, which is tasked to provide “trusted independent and objective advice” on how to best allocated taxpayer dollar for the Department of Defense, filed a report that outlined a need to shave off $125 billion of the Department’s $580 billion budget over the next 5 years.
The spending appears to going to non-essential military personnel and overpaid contractors doing the same job as uniformed servicemen and women.
Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus in the House are up in arms over the report, calling the Pentagon’s spending practices as “irresponsible and unacceptable,” and a “blatant attempt to deceive taxpayers and hide $125 billion of waste is indicative of a serious lack of accountability and clearly demonstrates the need for increased transparency at the Pentagon.”
One of the Caucus’ members, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), believes that those billions dollars in waste should go to “hard-working men and women of the civil service,” and be “reinvested” in current military personnel and veterans.
But while everyone seems to be in agreement that this wasteful spending should go to servicemen and women, security jobs are still needed around the world.
President Obama caused a security void in Iran when he pulled out U.S. Troops, a void was quickly filled by independent military contractors. While private companies have hired these military companies to meet their security needs, the U.S. government has also been paying these same private security companies to do some of the same tasks that active duty military personnel were first called onto do.
Arizona Senator Jeff Flake (R) has also called out the spending over at the Pentagon, and penned a letter to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, asking for clarity regarding the $125 billion in wasteful spending.
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) December 6, 2016
Here is the letter:
Dear Secretary Carter,
National defense is the single most important role the federal government serves. As such, I am committed to ensuring our courageous men and women in uniform are equipped with the best and most sophisticated gear, weapons, and machinery to protect our nation, defend our rights and interests, and ensure decisive victory in every potential battlefield.
Then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen stated in 2010 that “the most significant threat to our national security is our debt.” Since that time, Pentagon officials have come before Congress to scare off efforts to reduce unnecessary spending at the Department with nightmare scenarios including reduced combat readiness and cuts to military operations.
The recent findings by the Defense Business Board that nearly a quarter of the Pentagon’s $580 billion budget is being spent on overhead and operations is, therefore, of both great concern and promise.
The Defense Business Board outlined “a clear path to saving over $125 billion in the next five years” while avoiding any dire consequences to our national defense. In fact, more resources for the troops and weapons could be achieved by simply reallocating billions of dollars currently being wasted on excessive bureaucracy. This is a win-win scenario for taxpayers and the military.
I understand that providing for the nation’s defense comes at a steep price, but with our national debt approaching $20 trillion we all need to be focused combatting the new red menace threatening our national security, which is red ink.
In January I will be releasing the annual Wastebook report, which includes hundreds of millions of dollars in spending by the Pentagon that I consider frivolous or unnecessary. I hope that we can work together to cut wasteful spending while strengthening our nation’s defenses.
Would you please provide answers to the following questions:
What actions, if any, are being taken to address the findings of the Defense Business Board?
Following the presentation of the Board’s findings, what directives or action items were made to implement the recommended cost savings and are those efforts still underway? What office is overseeing those efforts to ensure compliance? How are savings being calculated?
What statutory obstacles may exist that would require legislative fixes from Congress to achieve these savings?
Which of the Board’s findings and cost savings suggestions do you think should be included in the Department’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget request?
Thank you for your service.
United States Senator