April 20, 2017
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
The Honorable Mick Mulvaney
Office of Management and Budget
Eisenhower Executive Office Building
Washington, DC 20503
The Honorable James N. Mattis
Department of Defense
1300 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301
Dear Mr. President, Director Mulvaney, and Secretary Mattis:
As you consider options to increase the efficiency of the federal workforce, the undersigned organizations strongly urge you to avoid any hasty decisions that would further increase staffing at the Department of Defense. The Pentagon is the largest federal employer, and numerous studies across the political spectrum have identified reforms to the size and structure of its workforce as an opportunity to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of its operations.
Specifically, some of the calls for reforms and appropriate reductions to the size and structure of the Pentagon workforce have included:
- A Defense Business Board study that identified $125 billion in potential savings from administrative waste, including excessive federal and contractor staffing.
- A letter signed by 38 defense experts that identified the size and structure of the Department’s workforce as an “area in need of urgent examination and restructuring” since both the civilian and contractor workforce “is now out of proportion to need."
- A Heritage Foundation study that estimated there was $29 billion to be found in efficiencies in the Department’s civilian workforce.
- A Congressional Budget Office study that found the Department could save $14 billion by replacing some military personnel with civilian employees.
- A joint study by the National Taxpayers Union and R Street Institute that estimated billions could be saved by reducing excess contractors and civilian employees.
Service contracting has also contributed to an ever-expanding “shadow government” that costs over a hundred billion dollars annually. While often justified as increasing efficiency and savings, shifting services from federal employees to contractors can significantly increase costs. A study by the Project On Government Oversight found the average annual contractor billable rate was much more than the average annual full compensation for federal employees performing comparable services. Judicious cuts to service contracts would also increase the efficiency and the effectiveness of the Department. Despite these opportunities for savings, the Government Accountability Office found DoD lacked “critical” information on contractor costs needed to make workforce decisions.
We appreciate this Administration’s willingness to examine costs and effectiveness across the federal government. The Pentagon’s staffing is ripe for a strategic review of the most appropriate and cost-effective workforce.
Center for International Policy
Coalition to Reduce Spending
Council for a Livable World
Gordon Adams, Professor Emeritus, School of International Service and Distinguished Fellow Stimson Center
National Center for Policy Analysis
National Priorities Project
National Taxpayers Union
Project On Government Oversight
Taxpayers Protection Alliance
Win Without War
Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND)
 Ian Kullgren and Matthew Nussbaum, “White House calls for deep agency cuts,” Politico, April 11, 2017.
 Department of Defense, “About the Department of Defense,” January 27, 2017.
 Defense Business Board, “Transforming Department of Defense’s Core Business Processes for Revolutionary Change,” February 9, 2015. Craig Whitlock and Bob Woodward, “Pentagon buries evidence of $125 billion in bureaucratic waste,” The Washington Post, December 5, 2016.
 Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, “Thirty-Eight Think Tank Experts Urge Defense Reform,” April 29, 2015.
 Heritage Foundation, “Reduce Civilian Overhead in Department of Defense,” The Budget Book: 106 Ways to Reduce the Size & Scope of Government, February 11, 2015.
 Congressional Budget Office, “Replace Some Military Personnel With Civilian Employees,” Options for Reducing the Deficit: 2017 to 2026.
 National Taxpayers Union and R Street Institute, How Pentagon Spending Can Better Reflect Conservative Values, June 4, 2013, p. 30.
 In FY 2015 the Department of Defense obligated $283 billion in federal contracts, with service contracts accounting for 44 percent of total obligations. Moshe Schwartz, John F. Sargent Jr., Gabriel M. Nelson, and Ceir Coral, Defense Acquisitions: How and Where DOD Spends and Reports Its Contracting Dollars, Congressional Research Service, December 20, 2016, p. 5.
 Project On Government Oversight, Bad Business: Billions of Taxpayer Dollars Wasted on Hiring Contractors, September 13, 2011.
 Government Accountability Office, Human Capital: Opportunities Exist to Further Improve DOD's Methodology for Estimating the Costs of Its Workforces, September 2013, p. 26.