Carter asked the military services two weeks ago to take steps to reduce their rate of spending. He said he asked them for detailed plans by Feb. 1 on what they are doing to reduce short-term spending before the $45 billion in new cuts are due to go into effect on March 1.
He also asked for detailed long-term planning by Feb. 8 on how the services will implement the $45 billion in across-the-board cuts if they go into effect.
Congressional failure to allocate funding for defense for the 2013 fiscal year has complicated the Pentagon’s budget mess. The department is currently operating on a continuing resolution that maintains funding at 2012 levels until March 27.
“The problem is that the money is in the wrong pots,” Carter said. He said the Pentagon had planned to spend considerably more for operations and maintenance in 2013 than it did in 2012.
“We don’t have enough money to operate the forces in the way we thought we were going to,” Carter said. “That’s the problem. And that’s a more than $10 billion problem. And we’re running out of time to eat that $10 billion and that’s the reason that we need to act now.”
To slow the rate of spending, the department has put a freeze on civilian hiring, he said. Usually the department hires 1,000 to 2,000 civilians a week, more than 44 percent of them military veterans and 86 percent of them living and working across the country, not in Washington.
The department’s 46,000 temporary and contract employees are “all now subject to release,” Carter said, meaning they will either be let go now or will not have their contracts extended. The only exception would be if they are performing jobs critical to the war or the department’s basic mission.