AFGE Fact-Checks Op-ed Attacking DoD Civilians

Categories: DoD

AFGE shot back at a Wall Street Journal op-ed which misrepresented facts about the size of the civilian workforce at the Defense Department. Below is AFGE's letter to the editor:

Many of Those Pentagon Civilians Are Tip-of-the-Spear

The size of the Defense Department’s civilian employee workforce has remained essentially unchanged.” 

February 10, 2015 

Regarding Mackenzie Eaglen’s op-ed (“The Pentagon’s Growing Army of Bureaucrats,” Jan. 30): The civilian workforce is already the smallest of the Defense Department’s three workforces and is the cheapest at $72 billion in fiscal 2013, compared with $146 billion for the military and $152 billion for service contractors. As Congress noted in 2012: “Over the last decade, DOD spending for contract services has more than doubled from $72 billion in fiscal 2000 to more than $150 billion (not including spending for overseas contingency operations), while the size of the department’s civilian employee workforce has remained essentially unchanged.” Civilians are being cut at a faster rate than the military—9.1% through fiscal 2019, compared with 8.7% for the military—while service contractors aren’t being cut at all. 

Because of their extraordinary sacrifices, military personnel are understandably more expensive than civilian personnel and service contractors. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that civilian personnel are 25% cheaper than service contractors. Former DOD Comptroller Robert Hale told Congress that service contractors generally cost two to three times what in-house performance costs. The modest increase in the civilian workforce during the conflicts in the Middle East primarily resulted from DOD converting work performed by more expensive military personnel and service contractors, thus saving taxpayer dollars. While the Defense Business Board has called for reducing spending on civilian employees through early retirement and attrition, it has rejected the far larger and arbitrary cuts being promoted by Ms. Eaglen and actually is recommending far more substantial cuts to service contracts. 

J. David Cox Sr.
National President
American Federation of Government Employees

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