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Conservative Report Finds $1.8 Trillion in Pentagon Savings

Cash Stack

“The ‘universe’ of programs and processes in need of reform at the Pentagon is more than large enough to allow for compliance with so-called sequestration while maintaining the strongest and most capable military the world has ever known.” – R Street Institute and National Taxpayers Union, June 2013

We couldn’t agree more. This quote, from a report released Tuesday by the fiscally conservative organizations R Street Institute and National Taxpayers Union, reflects a growing consensus that we can no longer afford to overlook waste at the Pentagon. Defending America, Defending Taxpayers details 100 specific recommendations for cuts to the Department of Defense (DoD)—the nation’s largest agency—totaling over $1.8 trillion, and makes a compelling argument for why these cuts will make our defense budget leaner while keeping us safe.

Defending America, Defending Taxpayers recommends cuts for fiscal discipline, but also takes care to distinguish between necessary programs and budgetary fat. The recommendations are divided into three categories: weapons systems, personnel and compensation, and programs and processes. If the recommended cuts were implemented, they would save the federal government $385.8 billion, $618.6 billion, and $878.5 billion, respectively.

James Davidson, Chairman Emeritus of the National Taxpayers Union, said of problematic Pentagon spending:

Not only does the Pentagon bid up the prices of items which only it can buy—like tanks—but it also pays too much for everyday items—like screws—which anyone could buy for less. Since the military does not need to compete in providing our defense, it has no reason to worry about cost-effectiveness.

As the groups explain, one sensible way to address cost-effectiveness at DoD is “Audit the Pentagon” legislation. The report describes this legislation and the different approaches sponsored by Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Representative Barbara Lee (D-Calif.). The groups say the reforms are “vital to establishing a basic accounting foundation at the Department of Defense upon which other fiscal reforms can be built.” It points out that even the savings estimated in the report are likely understated, as it is impossible to know just how much is being spent without a uniform accounting system.

We are pleased to see several recommendations included from a DoD budget report authored by the Project On Government Oversight and Taxpayers for Common Sense, Spending Even Less, Spending Even Smarter, as well as others we support:

  • Reduce reliance on contractors ($372 billion)
  • Delay Ground Combat Vehicle ($7 billion)
  • End procurement of Littoral Combat Ship ($2 billion)
  • Delay refurbishment of Abrams tank ($3 billion)
  • Reduce or eliminate ground-based missile defense systems ($6 billion)
  • Delay new E model of Army Apache helicopter ($1.3 billion in savings over one year)
  • Replace B and C models of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter with F/A-18E/F Super Hornets ($61.7 billion)
  • Replace V-22 Osprey with MH-60 and CH-53 helicopters ($17.1 billion)
  • Cancel C-130 avionics modernization ($208 million in savings over one year)

With this many common-sense cuts supported by fiscal conservatives who believe in a strong economy and a strong defense, we wonder why Congress continues to spend like there is no budget crisis.

Image from Flickr user stevelyon.

By: Christine Anderson
Public Policy Fellow, POGO

Christine Anderson Christine Anderson is a public policy fellow for the Project On Government Oversight.

Topics: National Security

Related Content: DOD Oversight, Wasteful Defense Spending

Authors: Christine Anderson

Submitted by Dfens at: June 10, 2013
It's funny that now POGO wants the C-130 AMP dead. For years AMP was their favored alternative to the C-130J, a program funded by Lockheed themselves to upgrade the C-130H. This upgrade included new engines, new avionics, more corrosion resistant alloys, and a new cargo handling system. Estimates of Lockheed's cost for this program vary, but were in the range of $1 billion to $2 billion of their own funds. This investment was made back in the profits from the sales of the first 125 aircraft. Contrast this to the AMP, POGO's long favored program, which changed the avionics of the airplane only. The initial cost of the development program was $1 billion. That ballooned to $10 billion as the vast majority of aircraft to be modified were ground ruled out of the program due to insufficient life, these being the E models belonging to the USAF. Clearly Lockheed, the manufacturer of the C-130 for the last 50 years saw the retirement of the E model coming when it invested in the J model in the first place. Boeing won the AMP competition with the help of Darlene Druyun, who went to jail for her illegal assistance, yet at no time during the developmental phase of that program did POGO recommend cancellation. No, POGO has waited until the development portion is mainly done, and only now when production is supposed to begin do they recommend cancellation. Hmm, why is it that POGO never recommends a program be cancelled until production is about to start?
Submitted by peacekeepertwo at: June 8, 2013
It's the same old song. The Pentagon has always wasted money, because war has always been thought of as a job Creator by politicians.
Submitted by Anonymous at: June 8, 2013
so who's going to do something about this? how do we do common sense cuts?
Submitted by Pete at: June 8, 2013
As a former enlised rank veteran, I had to do a lot of tings that contractors now do. KP and trckdriving were a part of extra assignments. We griped but did it at no additional axpayer cost.
Submitted by flickaml@aol.com at: June 8, 2013
I notice that many of the savings come from "delaying" various projects. How will this save Pentagon spending in the long run?
Submitted by bob workman at: June 8, 2013
I qalways felt the national debt was 100% the result of excessive DOD spending. If it continues, we will be history!
Submitted by marty at: June 7, 2013
I noticed no General staff cuts. Why not? They're surplas Generals stalling for time to increase years served to enhance their retirement pay. It's been reported by AF Magazine that Generals have assistant generals serving them coffee.
Submitted by Suz at: June 6, 2013
Considering that the citizens of this country have had their futures put on hold our military might have to be more conservative in their spending as well. Tighten your belts fellows.

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