By Marina Malenic
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has laid out more details on the $100 billion in internal Pentagon cost-savings he first outlined last year.
In a March 14 memo, Gates calls for the elimination of 140 general officer positions, or billets, as well as over 1,000 contractor jobs. U.S. Army Europe and the department’s newly created Cyber Command will see the largest billet reductions. The Missile Defense Agency will lose approximately 1,000 outside contractors, while nearly 400 such positions will be eliminated from the military’s health care management organization and just over 100 from the office of the undersecretary of defense for policy.
Further, all of the Pentagon’s human intelligence and counterintelligence functions will be consolidated within a single office under the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, and the Army Special Operations Command will take over functions currently performed by the Joint Military Information Support Command.
Information technology support from contractors will be cut by another $58 million, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency will produce fewer “advisory boards and studies” to save $1.3 million.
In total, the 48-page memo elaborates on more than $13 billion worth of cuts over the next five years, which Gates has said the department plans to reallocate to higher- priority needs.
Industry observers said the memo provides a great deal of detail on Gates’ waste-trimming proposal. Alan Chvotkin, executive vice president and counsel of the Professional Services Council (PSC), said the document is unusual in that it goes into such depth.
“We rarely see a defense secretary issue a memo of this length,” Chvotkin told Defense Daily in a telephone interview yesterday. “Gates is putting his marker into the ground and signaling that he is serious about reform.
PSC, the trade association of the government professional and technical services industry, has not taken a position on any of the specific cuts, according to Chvotkin, but will study the numbers to see whether the proposed savings really add up.
“We have never said no contractor positions should ever be cut,” he said. “The only thing we would question is whether there really is a difference between the cost of the civilian and the contractor position.”