7 Things DoD Can Do to Save Money Right Now

Categories: DoD

AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. and staff recently met with Peter Levine, the Pentagon’s new deputy chief management officer who leads the department’s efforts to streamline business processes and achieve efficiencies in management and overhead functions. His office also coordinates the 25% cut in the headquarters workforce.

AFGE welcomed Levine’s Senate confirmation as Levine has a deep understanding of our concerns based on many years of distinguished service to Senator Carl Levin of Michigan.

At the meeting we discussed arbitrary workforce cuts and appreciate his assurance that as he looks for savings outside the headquarters that it will be driven by reductions in mission rather than arbitrary cuts. AFGE remains concerned that arbitrary headquarters cuts will result in work shifting from civilians to expensive contractors and military personnel and that cuts in contractor personnel will not be enforced as promised. But we were pleased to hear that his office will strive to ensure the integrity of the process despite the ill-conceived mandate for arbitrary cuts he has been given.

In a follow-up letter to Levine on Oct. 23, AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. laid out seven things that DoD can do right now if the goal is to achieve savings and greater efficiencies:

  1. Use dollars rather than the number of employees to measure the size of the government. Contractors are much more expensive than federal employees. If the actual goal of arbitrary constraints is to save money, then giving federal jobs to contractors doesn’t make sense.
  2. Do not use a cap on the civilian workforce as an excuse to hand over federal jobs to contractors or military personnel.
  3. Look for offsetting reductions from all three workforces instead of seeking comparable reductions in the civilian workforce when the workforce is increased.
  4. Develop a process to allow exceptions to the cap placed on the number of civilian employees. DoD has authority to hire more civilians in certain circumstances, but not a lot of managers are willing to jump through a series of bureaucratic hoops when there is no similar constraints on the two other workforces.
  5. Conduct cost analysis when deciding who will perform new functions. We know that this analysis is almost never conducted prior to the assignment of new work, which mostly goes to expensive contractors.
  6. Bring back in-house outsourced work that can be done more cheaply by federal employees.
  7. Maintain a department-wide inventory of service contracts and use it to track costs and quality.

“As I asked you during our meeting, what is more important to the department – reducing the cost of the total workforce or constraining the size of the civilian workforce? If the former consideration is paramount, then it must be understood that in order for the department’s total workforce to cost less, the civilian workforce will have to grow, taking on work that would otherwise be assigned to or retained by more expensive contractor and military personnel,” Cox wrote. 

AFGE has learned that Secretary Levine does walk it like he talks it. In discussions with defense lawmakers about coming up with cuts necessary to generate the $5 billion in savings required by the two-year budget agreement, he insisted that contractors also be cut, not just civilians.  


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