#1

050 National Defense:Reduce Civilian Overhead in Department of Defense

Savings in Millions of Dollars
  • 2016
    1200
  • 2017
    2154
  • 2018
    2807
  • 2019
    3263
  • 2020
    3263
  • 2021
    3263
  • 2022
    3263
  • 2023
    3263
  • 2024
    3263
  • 2025
    3263
  • 2016-2020
    12687
  • 2016-2025
    29002

Sources

Savings are expressed as budget authority and were calculated based on civilian reduction projections found on page 9 in Assistant Secretary of the Army, Manpower and Reserve Affairs, “The Department of Defense Report on the Civilian Personnel Workforce and Contracted Services Reductions in the Fiscal Year 2015 Budget,” September 16, 2014. The Heritage proposal accelerates the proposed reductions by one year, realizing the 2016 and 2017 reductions in 2016, and also adding an additional reduction of 5,000 FTEs in 2020. The number of FTE reductions is multiplied by the average FTE cost of $91,178.

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Technical Notes on Scoring

CBO Baseline

Unless otherwise noted, calculations for savings for each recommendation relies on the most recent Congressional Budget Office baseline, as found in “An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014 to 2024,” published August 27, 2014, has been used.

Savings “Totals”

While totals for the five and 10 year savings are provided by section and for the complete set of recommendations, there are two reasons they should not be viewed as representing total savings for The Budget Book.

First, as noted in the introduction, The Heritage Foundation would recommend that the savings realized in the Function 050 Defense section would stay within the Department of Defense to strengthen the nation’s defense capabilities.

Second, the numbers cannot be deemed to represent the realized savings if every single recommendation were adopted because policy changes made in one program can impact spending levels in other programs.  Thus, the numbers in the table do not reflect any potential interactions between the various policy changes affecting spending or savings.

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Heritage Recommendation:

The Department of Defense (DOD) can reduce the size of the defense workforce by finding efficiencies in the civilian workforce. This proposal saves $1.2 billion in 2016, and $29.0 billion over 10 years.

Rationale:

Want to save $29B over 10 years in the fed. budget? Trim the DoD’s civilian workforce.

Since 2001, the total number of civilian employees in the DOD has grown 14 percent. During the same period, the total Active Military was reduced by 5 percent. Today, 36 percent of the DOD workforce is composed of civilians, totaling 782,000 people.

The DOD needs to once again “right size” the total DOD workforce. Secretaries of Defense Robert Gates and Chuck Hagel both announced plans to reduce the number of civilian employees during their tenure. Most recently, Secretary Hagel proposed to cut 20 percent of overhead in his office. The current DOD proposal is to reduce the civilian staff by just under 10,000 employees a year. This would be a comparable rate to future military end-strength reductions1. However, given the disproportionate growth in the civilian workforce in the past, the timing of the reductions should be moved up by one year and an additional reduction of 5,000 full-time equivalents (FTEs) be added in 2020.

This will not be as simple as cutting equal numbers of positions across all offices in the DOD. The department will need to devise a plan that outlines its strategic priorities, and where to find efficiencies and remove unnecessary duplication.

Endnotes

  1. U.S. Department of Defense, “The Department of Defense Report on the Civilian Personnel Workforce and Contracted Services Reductions in the Fiscal Year 2015 Budget,” September 16, 2014 (accessed November 12, 2014). 

Want to save $29B over 10 years in the fed. budget? Trim the DoD’s civilian workforce.

Contributing Expert

Diem Nguyen Salmon is the Senior Policy Analyst for Defense Budgeting in the Heritage Foundation's Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies. Intimately familiar with both U.S. defense platforms and government contracting practices, she brings special expertise to questions of defense hardware investment.

See publications by Diem Nguyen Salmon

Diem Nguyen SalmonSenior Policy Analyst for Defense Budgeting

Heritage Experts

James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., a leading expert in national security and foreign policy challenges, is The Heritage Foundation's Vice President, Foreign and Defense Policy Studies, E. W. Richardson Fellow, and Director of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies.

See publications by James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.Vice President for the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, and the E. W. Richardson Fellow

Steven Bucci, who served America for three decades as an Army Special Forces officer and top Pentagon official, is director of the Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

See publications by Steven Bucci

Steven BucciDirector, Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy

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