RUMMY REFORMS

Don Rumsfeld has an op-ed in today’s WaPo calling on Congress for major reforms in the way the defense budget and personnel management systems operate.

The defense authorization bill has grown from only one page in 1962 to a whopping 534 pages in 2001. The department is required to prepare and submit some 26,000 pages of justification, and more than 800 required reports to Congress each year — many of marginal value, most probably not read. Since 1975, the time it takes to produce a new weapons system has doubled, even as new technologies are arriving in years and months, not decades.

We are working to fix problems that we have the freedom to fix. We have reduced management and headquarters staffs by 11 percent, streamlined the acquisition process by eliminating hundreds of pages of unnecessary rules and red tape, and begun implementing a new business management structure. But we also need legislative relief. That is why we are asking for:

̢ۢ Measures for transforming our system of personnel management, so that we can gain more flexibility and agility in the way we manage the more than 700,000 civilians in the department. And let me be clear: The provisions we have proposed explicitly bar nepotism.

̢ۢ Expanded authority for competitive outsourcing so that we can get military personnel out of nonmilitary tasks and back into the field.

̢ۢ Measures to protect our military training ranges so that our men and women in uniform will be able to train as they fight, while honoring our steadfast commitment to protecting the environment.

I agree with him 100% on this but, alas, it is highly unlikely he’ll get much of what he wants. He has made much more progress than I’d have thought possible in transforming the military culture, canceling unneeded weapons systems, and the like. But as hard as those changes were–and they were hard–they are mere child’s play in comparison to asking Congress to turn over authority over what is by far the greatest component of non-discretionary spending in the Federal budget.

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.