Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chair of the House Armed Services Committee, has unveiled a plan he says will go after waste in the Pentagon budget. This seems remarkable, since Thornberry played a big role in the two-year budget deal that will boost military spending close to its highest level since World War II.
Thornberry’s bill goes after bureaucratic bloat in the Pentagon’s support agencies, whose workforces now include 200,000 civilian employees and 600,000 private contractors, costing the taxpayers more than $100 billion a year.
It’s a large and mostly worthy target, one that will generate savings of about $25 billion each year. Back in 2014 the Pentagon commissioned a study which found roughly equivalent savings from similar places. Then it sat on the report, effectively burying it.
Now Congress’ most prominent defense budget booster actually wants to follow through on this effort to tame a major area of wasteful Pentagon inefficiency. His approach has at least two big problems, though.