This week the House Armed Services Committee started their work on the defense budget, marking up the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The new bill will increase defense spending by $111.5 billion, totaling $696.5 billion. As one of the largest budget items in the federal budget ($0.15 for every $1 spent), every dollar in the Pentagon’s budget must be scrutinized so taxpayer dollars are not needlessly wasted. In addition, it is essential that every dollar authorized by NDAA goes towards the success of our national defense and men and women serving in uniform.
In 2012, former Senator Tom Coburn released a report titled The Department of Everything that outlines how the Department of Defense (DOD) could save billions by making specific cuts to nondefense spending without cutting vital defense priorities.
Highlights from the report include (all savings based on report release date in 2012):
Non-Military Research and Development: Research projects that have little or nothing to do with national defense or medical needs related to military service ($6 billion).
Education: The Defense Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools (DDESS) that educates children of military families here in the United States and the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programs that duplicate the work of the Department of Education and local school districts ($10.7 billion). The Department of Defense Tuition Assistance Program which provides college funding for military members on active duty and duplicates the Department of Veterans Affairs ($4.5 billion).
Alternative Energy: Duplicative and unnecessary alternative energy research by the Department of Defense ($700 million).
Grocery Stores: Pentagon-run grocery stores here in the United States ($9 billion).
Overhead, Support, and Supply Services: Over 300,000 military members performing civilian-type job functions and too many general officers. ($37 billion).
Streamlining Defense bureaucracy and overhead are essential to rebuilding America’s military. The lack of innovation and oversight not only wastes taxpayer dollars, but it also harms the warfighter and their ability to receive support and supplies for battle.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis has previously noted: “The foundation of military strength is our economic strength. In a few short years paying interest on our debt will be a bigger bill than what we pay for defense. Much of that interest money is destined to leave America for overseas. If we refuse to reduce our debt/pay down our deficit, what is the impact on national security for future generations who will inherit this irresponsible debt and the taxes to service it? No nation in history has maintained its military power if it failed to keep its fiscal house in order.”
Equipping and protecting those who serve in the military is without question the top priority of the Department of Defense. However, as the debate on how best to achieve these critical objectives gets underway, oversight and reform should be an essential part of the plan. Not only will this ensure our active duty troops have what they need for battle, it will strengthen our nation.
Read more Department of Everything!