White House Objects to Language Mandating Personnel Cuts in Senate Bill

first_img Dan Cohen AUTHOR The Obama administration said it opposes a section in the Senate’s fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill that would streamline the Defense Department in an attempt to eliminate unnecessary overhead because it would force the Pentagon to impose “deep, across-the-board cuts.”The Senate measure, S. 1376, calls for reducing funding for headquarters and administrative functions for military services, defense agencies, combatant commands, the office of the secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff by 7.5 percent for four years, totaling 30 percent by the fourth year. The cuts would yield $1.7 billion in savings in FY 2016 and recurring savings of $6.8 billion per year by the fourth year.The savings would be funneled to operations and readiness, according to the Senate Armed Services Committee.The “Statement of Administration Policy” issued Tuesday by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) counters that the language fails to recognize reductions already carried out by DOD.“By anchoring the reductions on the FY 2015 authorized amounts, the scale and timeline of these reductions would preclude DOD from implementing them through streamlining and process improvements. Instead, DOD would be required to make deep, across-the-board cuts which would undermine critical functions that support the warfighter,” OMB stated.The department already is carrying out a plan to reduce headquarters personnel by 20 percent that is projected to save $5.3 billion cumulatively by FY 2019, the agency said.OMB also criticized the Senate provision for relying on an inappropriate baseline. “[The provision] anchors the cost reduction in DOD’s administrative operations and maintenance account, which includes activities other than management headquarters; it is, therefore, an inappropriate basis for cost reduction,” according to the document.The House’s authorization bill also calls for DOD to streamline its headquarters functions, but it is not quite as far-reaching. That measure, H.R. 1735, calls for DOD to trim its headquarters budgets and personnel by 20 percent over five years to generate $10 billion in savings.The White House’s response to the Senate version of the annual defense policy bill says the president’s advisers would recommend he veto it, primarily due to the bill’s lack of language authorizing a BRAC round and its reliance on the department’s overseas contingency operations (OCO) account to supersede the statutory spending caps.last_img

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