Federal Manager's Daily Report

The annual DoD authorization bill (HR-1735) takes issue with how the department is carrying out a 20 percent reduction in headquarters-level staff the Pentagon itself ordered two years ago.

The bill — which has passed Congress in final form but is subject to a veto threat over other issues — reflects comments in hearings and announcements earlier this year from Capitol Hill essentially to the effect that the department is merely pushing functions down to lower levels, not truly streamlining.

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A Capitol Hill statement on the bill said that “an agile military efficiently manages the workforce and keeps the size of headquarters in balance with the force in the field. The conferees support the efforts by the department to reduce headquarters’ budgets and personnel by 20 percent, if those reductions are taken in a strategic manner, preserving critical competencies, such as depots and the acquisition workforce. However, it is not clear if these efforts are resulting in efficiencies, since the department lacks a baseline from which to measure reductions against, as noted by the Government Accountability Office.”

The measure would set a baseline of headquarters functions against which to measure, and would increase the required cut to 25 percent over the next five years, with at least some of the changes made to date potentially counting toward that goal.

“While the conferees recognize that the department’s missions and requirements have not decreased, and that we will need to preserve the necessary end strength and skill sets to meet the growing threat environment, they also recognize that DoD must do a better job balancing its tooth-to-tail,” the statement said.