DoD Is Cutting Cheapest Workforce in Haste to “Cut Costs”

The Department of Defense has a new goal: instead of reducing funding and staffing at its headquarters by 20%, it now wants to do a 25% cut. The problem is, the workforce it’s cutting is the cheapest among the three workforces.

Rather than reexamining its costly contractor expenses, the DoD has opted to cut its more cost-efficient civilian workforce. The cuts were spelled out in an Aug. 24 memorandum to DoD leaders from Defense Deputy Secretary Robert Work that has just been made public.

“If cutting expenses is the number one priority, then the first place DoD should target is the vast bureaucracy of contractor personnel who cost more than federal workers and are less accountable to taxpayers.”

- AFGE National President J. David Cox

The Government Accountability Office reports that there are more contractors than civilian and military personnel in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. 

DoD previously ordered a 20% cut in headquarters funding, but Work’s memo claims the Pentagon needs additional savings to fund higher priority requirements.

AFGE opposes all across-the-board staffing cuts, since by their very nature they are carried out indiscriminately, without regard to how vital work will continue to be performed with fewer staff.

“Even more distressing, these so-called headquarters cuts could serve as a terrible precedent for arbitrary cuts to the civilian workforce, which is the least costly of the department’s three workforces but the one that is already scheduled to be cut the most through 2019,” Cox said.

The Army already is planning to slash the civilian workforce by 30% at 30 installations nationwide.

AFGE’s DoD members should closely follow this issue.  Broadly defined, headquarters personnel are in every DoD component and every DoD agency, some are in management and some are in collective bargaining units, and they work in offices and installations all over the nation.  

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