Michael Bruno and I have some initial thoughts on Secretary Gates' big announcement yesterday of some pretty radical spending and staffing cuts at the DoD, and the Congressional push-back that has already started. Things have the potential to get very messy once Congress returns from its August break.
Traditional weapons programs like shipbuilding and emerging capabilities like cyberwarfare may be beneficiaries of the one-third, three-year cut in services support contracting that U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates outlined Aug. 9.
The steps announced were at once sweeping and seemingly nibbling, but all will be up for what promises to be a contentious congressional review in the Fiscal 2012 budget process.
Still, service contractors certainly will see strong headwinds as Gates, in a high-profile Pentagon press conference, said nascent insourcing efforts were not going far enough and that the way to cut excessive contracting costs was to root out offices and practices that generated them.
“To be clear, the task before us is not to reduce the department’s top-line budget,” he said. “Rather, it is to significantly reduce its excess overhead costs and apply the savings to force structure and modernization.”
Gates asserted to reporters that he was “determined” to change the way the Pentagon did business, and he said he would be staying longer than he or others once predicted. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, announced his support for the moves.
Several lawmakers, however, erupted in opposition. In particular, the Virginia delegation and governor announced a “united front” to fight the closure of U.S. Joint Forces Command (Jfcom), as Gates is recommending, and questioned whether Washington really would allow greater investments in areas like shipbuilding.You can read the whole thing here.