Through recommendations based on a back-office waste evaluation, the Defense Department hopes to save $7.9 billion in the next five years.
Members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee were perturbed not only by the study’s conclusions but also the seeming lack of action from the DoD. The hearing comes as US President Donald Trump is planning to cut foreign aid and other federal programs in order to increase defense spending to $54 billion.
"I think the one thing I would take unequivocal issue with is that the report was in any way suppressed … It was actively discussed within the department at the time and it has formed the basis of discussion since that time," Military.com quoted he Pentagon’s acting deputy chief management officer, David Tillotson III, saying.
According to the study, which was conducted by the DoD’s Business Board and cost around $9 million to conduct, noncombat duties like property management, finances, health care management and human resources account for the jobs of more than a million Pentagon employees, and that if those operations were more efficient, $125 billion could be saved.
The board found that 10 Navy carrier strike group deployments or 50 additional additional Army brigades could be funded with the savings. Tillotson says that most of the $7.9 billion will come from service contracts and information technology purchases.
He said the Department’s continuous resistance to audits could make the task of finding more saving difficult, telling lawmakers, "There is an internal challenge, that is our job, we will go fight those battles … and in some instances we are assisted by actions on The Hill."
In December the Washington Post reported that the DoD may have tried to conceal the study out of fear that Congress would use its findings to cut their budget.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) said, "Did we waste $8 to 9 million dollars of the taxpayers’ money on a report on identifying waste in the Pentagon and if we didn’t waste it, what have been the savings that came out of this report?"