House chairman wants to cut more than $25B from Pentagon agencies


House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) on Tuesday unveiled a new set of reforms aimed at slashing the Pentagon’s defense agencies budget by more than $25 billion by 2021. 

A group, which includes 28 agencies, field activities and military media outlets not directly under military services, makes up at least $100 billion of defense spending per year, according to Thornberry.

{mosads}The House bill would look to impose a mandatory 25 percent spending cut for that group and in the process eliminate seven of the agencies: the Defense Technical Information Center, Defense Test Resource Management Center, Office of Economic Adjustment, Defense Technology Security Administration, Defense Information Systems Agency, Defense Human Resources Activity and Washington Headquarters Services.

Should the 25 percent savings not be met by the January 2021 deadline, it would trigger an automatic 25 percent across-the-board cut.

Thornberry noted that some combat support agencies are exempt from the cuts, and the Defense Health Agency, also in that group, would largely be untouched. 

“Acquisition reform is largely getting rid of stuff,” Thornberry told reporters. “We’re trying to streamline decisionmaking.”

The Pentagon’s chief management officer — a new role created by Congress — would be in charge of identifying the redundant tasks and waste. They would submit a report to Congress by March 2020 on what would need to go.

Thornberry did not have a number for how many civilian jobs could be cut. He acknowledged that personnel that work for one of the seven agencies may feel like their job is threatened, but stressed the need for accountability.

“If you’ve got 20 agencies who are providing input who do you hold accountable for the results? That’s been a real frustration,” he said.

Thornberry hopes to insert the new set of reforms into the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act to begin the process.

Defense Department officials have not yet responded to the new proposal, but Thornberry said he’s optimistic they will largely be receptive, unlike the reforms of the past several years.

“For the last three years, the reforms that we have enacted [have] basically been in the face of opposition of the department,” he said.

“That is not true this year. Now I’m not saying they endorse all of this stuff, but I am saying we have leadership at the department that is very reform-minded and we have been talking with them. I do think we’re trying to swim the same direction.”

Tags Defense Department House Armed Services Committee Mac Thornberry Pentagon Pentagon budget

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