Major legislation aims to slash Pentagon bureaucracy and waste | Citizens Against Government Waste

Major legislation aims to slash Pentagon bureaucracy and waste

The WasteWatcher

On April 17, 2018, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), chairman of the powerful House Committee on Armed Services, revealed a far-reaching proposal targeting the Defense Department’s so-called “Fourth Estate” agencies, which are maintained by around 200,000 civilian personnel and 600,000 contractors.

The Fourth Estate is a nickname for defense agencies that provide administrative, purchasing, and oversight support to the armed forces. The Pentagon’s fourth estate is comprised of 28 agencies and costs the government more than $100 billion per year. Chairman Thornberry’s proposal would eliminate seven redundant agencies inside the department as well as impose a 25 percent personnel cut in many others by January 1, 2021. Should the 25 percent savings not be met by the deadline, it would trigger a 25 percent across-the-board cut of the Fourth Estate.

The legislation would completely eliminate the Defense Technology Security Administration, the Defense Information Systems Agency, the Defense Technical Information Center, the Office of Economic Adjustment, the Test Resources Management Center, and the Washington Headquarters Services.

The services provided by these agencies are replicated within other existing DoD agencies where some personnel would be transferred. For example, the Defense Information Systems Agency would be absorbed by the U.S. Cyber Command which is already doing much of the same work.

The Fourth Estate has grown in budget significantly over the last decade. For example, the Washington Headquarters Service has seen its budget double in the past 10 years. Overall defense spending is projected to reach a record $716 billion next year.

Chairman Thornberry has argued that the Fourth Estate slows down policymaking at the Pentagon due to its duplicative nature. He wants a more streamlined defense bureaucracy that would make our nation’s military more agile and efficient.

Thornberry released his plan ahead of the Committee’s drafting of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2019 so his reforms can be included in the annual bill.