Cut Budget, Gut Capabilities: Gates

Cut Budget, Gut Capabilities: Gates

Defense Secretary Robert Gates sent a clear signal to Democrats who might be eager to make cuts to the Defense Department’s budget: if you cut us below current levels you will “have to sacrifice force structure. We cannot do it any other way.”

Making such cuts will mean that the United States will suffer from “a reduction in military capability and a reduction in our flexibility.”

Gates was replying to a question from Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), who cited the Obama administration’s domestic spending freeze, adding that the U.S. “may need to trim defense budgets as well.”

But Gates cautioned against that kind of thinking. “The situation out there in the world doesn’t change and the world is getting more dangerous rather than less so,” he told Udall. “The Defense Department certainly spends a lot of money but if you look at where the Defense Department is today it certainly is within historical norms.” Including funding for the two wars, the Defense Department consumers 4.7 percent of gross national product, which “represents a significantly smaller portion of national wealth going to defense than was spent during America’s pervious major wars,” Gates said.

But some Democrats did not back off., Sen. Jim Webb, former Secretary of the Navy, said he did “not believe that the DoD budget should be sacrosanct” and he hit out at funding that goes to officers working at think tanks such as the Center for a New American Security. Webb, who doubtless offended at least half-a-dozen incipient Democratic defense office holders, said he did not believe think tanks provided any value to the defense game.

Webb also criticized the so-called mentor program, which allows retired general officers — many of whom work for defense companies — to serve as Pentagon consultants and receive up to $2,600 a day for their work. Webb was joined in his criticism of this program by several senators, including Claire McCaskill of Missouri.

The debate about the Joint Strike Fighter’s second engine, the F136, is already front and center, with several Democrats lining up with the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Sen. John McCain urged Gates to threaten to veto the defense authorization bill loudly and often since his efforts were likely to “fall on deaf ears up here.”

Gates offered a detailed justification for killing the F136, saying the engine would cost an additional $2.5 billion over the next five years and would not save much, if any, money. On top of that, “the alternate engine program is three to four years behind in development compared to the current program, and there is no guarantee that a second program would not face the same challenges as the current effort,” Gates said in his prepared statement. The secretary repeated his threat to recommend a veto over the program, but it did not have the deep, booming sound of a death knell. It sounded more like the call to prayer. After all, Gates knows he faces broad and entrenched support for the F136 and he does not want to alienate F136 supporters like Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the committee.

Gates also disclosed that the Future years Defense Plan contains $1.7 billion for the next-generation bomber and long range strike. He made clear the department is still quite a ways from making any final decisions. “Do we want a stand-off bomber, an attack bomber, a manned or unmanned bomber, or do we want variations?” he asked. He noted that U.S B-52 fleet still “has a lot of life left” and, when you get right down to it, “we are talking about a bomber that would not appear in the force until the late 20s…”

Finally, best line of the day goes to Gates. He was asked about Northrop Grumman’s personnel tracking system called DIMHRS (Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System). He was asked by Sen. Roland Burris of Illinois why the program was sacked.

“I would say that what we have got for half a billion dollars is an unpronounceable acronym,” Gates told Burris. Mullen was simply blunt: “The program was a disaster.”

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What is it that has this party so peeved that defense got a pass just like entitlements? Come to think of it everything of consequence got a pass in terms of the Administration’s budget cuts.

They have to cut down the military as much as possible to close the gap. remember this is the administration that stated on public TV that they were going to establish a federal police force loyal to the president that is just as well trained and equiped in all aspects as the military. With todays shortfalls in cash he has to reduce the size of the military through budget cuts to be able to get his gestopo going within budget constraints.

Where did you hear that?

Congress seems to forget that the Constitution states that they “will provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare”. Were as todays congress especially Obama and the Democrats beleive they should “will provide for the general Welfare and promote the common defence”. Could we make all of congress and Obama resign based on the fact they are not following the cxonstitution?

Drake1 — Obama made this speech statement once prior and again after his election. I believe you can still see the clips on Fox and Youtube under obamas personal military plans.

Secy Gates tells Congress: “if you cut us below current levels you will have to sacrifice force structure. We cannot do it any other way.”

Wait a minute.

Here’s the base FY 2011 budget request of $548.9 billion broken down by appropriation category :

O&M $200.3b
MilPers $138.5b
Procurement $112.9b
RDT&E $76.1b
MilCon $16.9b
Revolving Funds $2.4b
Family Housing $1.8b

Notice that O&M — at 36.5 percent of the total — is easily the largest contributor to the request. Isn’t it reasonable to think that even small improvements in the management of the largely civilian-staffed activities that O&M largely pays for (central supply and maintenance; financial and business-IT activities; real property and installation management; human resources management; etc.) might make it possible to reduce annual O&M costs by, say, 5 percent? That alone would allow the Congress to “cut” $10 billion out of the FY 2011 defense budget without having any adverse effects on force structure

To be sure, any “management improvements” would have to be real in the sense that they really would have to improve the efficiency of O&M-funded support operations without giving up anything in the effectiveness and performance of those operations. And,unfortunately, 20 years of failed “business transformation” efforts at the Dept suggest that is much easier said than done, even on the margins. (The DIMHRS project mentioned in the article, for example, was, right up until its cancellation, one of the crown jewels in the management portfolio of the new “Business Transformation Agency” created four years ago to serve as the latest “guiding light” for business transformation in the Dept.)

Still, Deputy Secy Bill Lynn IS now the official Chief Management Officer (CMO) for the Dept — with formal responsibility for finding ways to make the Dept’s “business operations” more efficient. Shouldn’t Secy Gates ask Mr. Lynn — and the Deputy CMO (who hasn’t been appointed yet, unfortunately) — to take a crack at that, before issuing dire warnings to the Congress that the DOD needs every last dime of that 548.9 billion dollars that has been requested for FY 2011?

I love this opening remark made by Gates in regards to Congress making any cuts: “Making such cuts will mean that the United States will suffer from “a reduction in military capability and a reduction in our flexibility.” How can he say that and still cut the alternate engine from the JSF Program? Having one engine for the JSF is not smart, but having the SAME engine power both the F22 and F35 is ludicrous. This is what Gates is proposing by leaving the alternate engine out of the Defense budget. Oh, and don’t say they aren’t the same engine. P&W sold the USG on the F135 and it being a derivative of the F119 and how much cheaper it would be. Gates will not only reduce our Military capability by having one engine, he is also eliminating any flexibility we might have had with our legacy fleets because he now has basically one engine powering his Fourth and Fifth Generation Fighters.….what a smart move. China and Russia have to be laughing at this fiasco.

Drake — FOX didn’t say it, the words came right out of Obama’s mouth during televised speeches. ABC-NBC-and CBS played the same address, FOX just kept the video on line longer than any of the others.

Hold it. Why are they talking about engines? Are’nt we buying the whole plane of 1000 per order?

Mullen was simply blunt: “The program was a disaster.”

How long are we going to keep buying NG disasters ?

Gates says the last program was a disaster and over a half billion dollars was lost. I am sure there was more programs like this and more billions of dollars lost. The president requested in the last budget that the concurrent program for chapter 61 retirees be included in the budget. The democrats initially included it in the budget but when the final votes came down — it was pulled. I am sure the funding for that was much less that some of the projects mentioned. I am chapter 61 disabled vietnam retiree and was hoping that would pass. It is amazing how congress and the senate say they want to support the older veterans but when the votes are counted — we lose. I and many other chapter 61 retirees were expecting those funds for our families since the president said we were important. I know the funds required for the chapter 61 retirees was just a drop in the bucket — compared to the overall budget. Maybe with some of these projedts being looked at the politicians will give us the credit we deserve and get it part of the next budget.. If anyone would like to talk to me about this — please call. 734 782‑2138

Kenneth E. Simpson Disabled Vietnam Veteran and Chapter 61 Retiree

As a current DOD civilian employee, I must compliment Sec Robert Gates on his appraisal of DIMHRS. Another paper mill for employee record keeping. It was necessary to complete this time tracking anchor in addition to the existing paper mill. One wonders who dreams up these “modern elephants”, must be another “think tank” product. Will we ever go paperless? After all, coming from a semiconducter manufacturing envirnment, I was taught that paper was a contaminent.…Will society as we know it, ever go paperless?

why don’t they get the money from “OBAMA“he seems to have plenty to pay them 42 CZAR and staff,his wifes has plenty on her staff she can give some back,he can stay in DC and save that gas for the planes,cut them big parties he has when he is in DC,they always have the money for what they want ‚but our military always gets the short stick.….this sec. should get out now may be he can save face.….

The real joke is that DIMHRS isn’t really dead. The services are taking over the disaster that was delivered and are going to try to implement it themselves, thus repeating the same mistake and costing taxpayers millions more.

I am also a contractor that works on military pay and personnel systems for the Government. I can tell you as well that DIMHRS is not cut. It’s still around and still soaking up millions of dollars. “THEY”, whoever THEY are, have just renamed the project. I also think the cost was more than half a billion over the last 10 years. No matter who “THEY” are, The Honorable Mr. Gates is responsible. The DIMHRS project (pronounced DIMERS), as so many other, died a political death.

To confirm/clarify the preceding DIMHRS comments, here’s the statement from the Senate Appropriations Committee regarding the DIMHRS program in FY 2010:

“Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System [DIMHRS]- DIMHRS is designed to provide an integrated, multi-component personnel and pay system to the Services. In August 2009, the Department asked the Committee to transfer fiscal year 2010 funds requested for DIMHRS under the Business Transformation Agency to the Services for execution in accordance with a recently completed program restructure that transitions this capability to the Services. The Committee has accommodated this request as detailed in the tables accompanying this report.”

The tables referred to show the DIMHRS FY2010 budget request was for $70 million to be managed by the DOD Business Transformation Agency. The Senate Appropriations Committee removed $51.3 million from the program (by reducing Army R&D by $30.8 million and Air Force R&D by $20.5 million, which otherwise would have transferred to BTA). That leaves $18.7 million for the program in FY 2010 — to be managed by the Army (I think, but I’m happy to be corrected on that).

That is true for FY2010, however, the Pentagon has requested for 2011
$100 million for the new ‘Army DIMHRS’, $43 million for ‘Air Force
DIMHRS’ and over $27 million for ‘Navy DIMHRS’. So that’s another
$170 million just for FY 2011 requested to continue what they
themselves describe as a failure.

An important point is that a DoD IG Audit and numerous internal DoD studies documented the reason for DIMHRS failure as governance at a senior level. The issues and problems requiring remediation by DIMHRS still remain thus driving the continuation of separate service, hell-spawn-children of DIMHRS systems. The problem of governance remains — only now coupled with a triple cost of implementation and ongoing system support. Only an outside organization such as Congress can force the DoD senior leadership necessary to prevent continuation of this failure in governance.

Not sure DoD Civ’s characterization of the DoDIG audit of the DIMHRS is correct — and it’s worth trying being clear about the DIMHRS collapse if things in this area are ever going to get any better.

The DoDIG’s report (available at: http://​www​.dodig​.mil/​a​u​d​i​t​/​r​e​p​o​r​t​s​/​f​y​1​0​/​1​0​-​0​4​1​red… is actually mainly about criticizing a Sept 2009 USD(AT&L) decision to walk away from the “DOD-wide” approach represented by DIMHRS and to let the Services to develop their own, separate systems for HR management. Part of the problem is that the DODIG doesn’t accept an OUSD(AT&L) business-case analysis (released in June 2009) that (probably) contributed to the USD(AT&L)‘s Sept 2009 decision to shut DIMHRS down. In particular, the DODIG is understandably suspicious about cost figures in the BCA that say DIMHRS life-cycle costs would be $26.6 billion, as opposed to a MAIS life-cycle-cost estimate of $1.78 billion submitted six months earlier. But waht makes the 26.6 billion figure even more suspicious to the IG, however, is that it makes the BCA’s life-cycle cost estimate for the separate-Service-solution, $14.2 billion, look like a bargain. As previous commentors have said — the whole thing is a big waste of money, no matter what figures are used.

Reading between the lines of the OSD response to the IG’s report, however, it’s pretty clear the real reason DIMHRS was canned is NOT because of its costs (either way they are too great ) but because the Army, Navy, and Air Force — understandably enough, given their differences in mission, culture, operationally , etc.– finally managed to convince USD(AT&L) that the “DOD-wide” approach was simply never going to meet their needs.

The real lesson of DIMHRS is that at some point DOD leaders need to stand up to GAO and its supporters (they are legion) and point out DIRECTLY that the DoD is not, never has been, and never will be the “single corporate enterprise” that the “architects” of business transformation have been saying it “must” become — no matter how much it costs and how many years it takes to get there. Why? What’s wrong with separate, smaller solutions.? (Maybe they really would be cheaper, by the way.)

For anyone interested in the DIMHRS experiment (and, by extension, future prospects for the Department’s Business Transformation Agency ) the DODIG report cited by DoD Civ is worth reading. (It’s available at: http://​www​.dodig​.mil/​a​u​d​i​t​/​r​e​p​o​r​t​s​/​f​y​1​0​/​1​0​-​0​4​1​red

I think the IG’s report shows (it certainly didn’t mean to do this ) that the Department finally has a USD(AT&L) willing to push back against the conventional view (long promoted by the GAO, and hopelessly embedded in the charter of the BTA) that for DOD “business transformation” to succeed, the DOD must be viewed, wherever possible, as a “single corporate enterprise.” The problem is that the Army, Navy, and Air Force — because their missions are different — each have their own, distinct history, culture, and operating methods. As a result (and understandably enough), they each would like to develop and operate their own systems for personnel management, including making their own improvements to their existing systems. The Acquisition Decision Memorandum signed by USD(AT&L) last September, which cancelled DIMHRS as a DOD-wide (i.e., “enterprise-level”) program, allows them to do that. It remains to be seen whether that will be cheaper and more effective than continuing with DIMHRS (how could it not be, right?), but OUSD(AT&L) now believes it will be, based on the latest business-case analysis it has done. The DODIG’s report shows the DODIG is not convinced, but offers nothing to make its case beyond the usual, GAO-style hand-waving about the alleged advantages of the “enterprise-level” approach.

This was a very interesting read. While you may be right in saying that DODIG is pushing OUSD(AT&L) back toward a DoD level system, it seems that the IG’s main point was that their decision making was hastily done and had little substance to back it up. Seems like everyone would be better served if they at least completed their due diligence and re-worked their BCA.

Either way, though, I fully agree that it’s a big waste of $$.

DIMHRS actually started out as a Congressional add, courtesy of a local powerful Louisiana Congressman. After pushing the pork for a few years, it became an official Pentagon “program of record.”

But the problem here, as is clearly evident from the DoDIG report (which is itself defective), is no leadership. Someone needs to bang heads together, field a best-of-breed system and turn off all the other stuff.

The “someone’” who will be in a position to devote his or her full attention to the job of figuring out what needs to be done about management issues like DIMHRS (and ‘banging heads together” when that’s necessary) will be the new Deputy Chief Management Officer, who will be operating at the Under Secretary level (though they won’t have that title).
Unfortunately, the first DCMO still hasn’t been appointed. Anybody heard any rumors?

Looking at the DoDIG report I was wondering how costs went from about 1.7 Billion total cost to 16 Billion dollars and why this was never explained by management. How can this system have increased this much, and as John said when will Congress have them produce and field a best-of-breed system. With Personnel and Pay it just doesn’t seem that it should take over 10 years to complete, why was the Program Manager and enterprise office not held accountable?

The “enterprise office” for DIMHRS was the Business Transformation Agency , and the Program Manager was a BTA employee. They’ve both been fired.

Yes, it would be very interesting to know what caused the estimated life-cycle cost of DIMHRS to increase from $1.78 billion (a Dec 2008 MAIS estimate made by the BTA) to $26.67 billion (a June 2009 estimate made by AT&L and the Services).

David Fisher is the head of BTA and Dr. Nancy Spruill is the Director for Acquisition Resources and Analysis in AT&L . Mr. Fisher reports to the Deputy Chief Management Officer, who hasn’t been appointed yet, so he reports to nobody. Dr. Spruill reports to the USD(AT&L) and has held her job for more than ten years. She led the USD(AT&L)-directed re-evaluation of DIMHRS that came up with the $26.67 billion estimate.

Mr. Fisher and Dr. Spruill should both be called before Congress to explain.

(If for no other reason because there are another fourteen MORE “DOD-wide-system” acquisition programs, separate from DIMHRS, being “managed” at the BTA. One such program, for example, is the Defense Agencies Initiative (DAI), which is supposed to show that financial management for 28 different Defense Agencies can be accomplished using a single, commercial-off-the-shelf Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. You can’t make this stuff up.)

This is the smoke and mirror. the fact is the DoD BTA asked the Committee to move this money around (Like chairs on the Titianic) and then told the Serivces to certify that Core IT Investment and request the necessary funding.

SEE THE DODIG Report for the $16.7Billlion required to have a military personnel and pay system!!

The Business Transformation Agency is another one of those “better management” diversions that pop up every few years. This is why the bureaucracy continues to grow. And why it eventually collapses. Creating BTA was a step backwards. We need good, old-fashioned leadership to solve these “purple” or Pentagon wide system modernization needs. For example, old-fashioned leadership would say to pull together an “special action committee” of existing management personnel who report directly to a guy that can fire them for not getting their job done. Once back on track, the committee is disbanded.

BTA just adds another costly layer, with a separate set of rules, and which is overstaffed with contractors. And creating a “Chief Management Officer” amplifies the problem of poor management. The Deputy Secretary of Defense, who has filled that role, should be chief head-banger. Otherwise, we should fire him!

If we can’t fix the bureaucracy that supports our troops, how do we ever expect to win a war?

All I can say is be careful what you wish for, because the “old-fashioned leadership” and “special action committee” solution Mr. King suggests has already been tried and it doesn’t work:

The Defense Business Systems Management Committee, chaired by the Deputy Secretary of Defense, was created in Feb 2005 and has met every month since then to review all business-IT system investment decisions in the Department involving more than one million dollars. That hasn’t stopped ‘disasters’ like DIMHRS from happening, however. So, as appealing as Mr. King’s call for “old-fashioned leadership” sounds, bad leadership is NOT the reason the Department has had so many problems over the last 15 years trying to get things right in this area. There is another reason and it has to do with specific requirements in the CFO Act of 1990 and the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 (both of which became law largely in response to GAO lobbying) that have given DOD leaders no choice but to pursue “enterprise-level solutions” (like DIMHRS) that would become the magic bullet making the department’s “business” (i.e., support) operations more effective and efficient. We now have more than 15 years of history — with leaders in place as talented as Gordon England was and as Bill Lynn may yet prove to be — that shows the CFO Act and Clinger-Cohen Act approaches not only don’t work, but actually make things worse.

[The DBSMC, by the way, was established in 2005 in response to hysteria whipped up by the GAO (and reinforced, unfortunately, by then Comptroller Dov Zakheim, who should have known better) that DOD’s spending on business IT systems was “out of control.” (The GAO actually — and unprofessionally — used those words in a May 2004 report.) At the very time GAO and Mr. Zakheim were asserting that the Dept had “too many systems,” and that business-IT-system spending was “out of control,” the Department’s FY 2004 budget request for business IT systems was for $18.8 billion ($14.0 billion for operations and maintenance and $4.8 billion for development and modernization). That figure represented 4.9 percent of the DOD’s total budget request for FY04. By way of comparison, private-sector spending on business IT systems in the same time frame, expressed as a percentage of revenues, ranged from 1.7 to 7 percent, depending on industry involved, suggesting that the DOD’s spending was, in fact both reasonable and to be expected.]

A lot of DoD problems with IT and other business systems modernization is the inability of anyone in a leadership role to use Teddy Roosevelt’s big stick within the Pentagon. DIMHRS didn’t take 10 to 15 years to fail because of leadership, but because of a lack thereof. The military services and other players need to get their concerns on the table, OSD needs to force a best-of-breed solution on everyone, and then implement it. Takes maybe one or two years.

As to CFO and Clinger-Cohen, I agree they are impediments. But show Congress (and its GAO puppets) how to do things and then ask for the process to be changed. Revisions like the new weapons acquisition legislation — creating more reporting bureaucracy — just add to our self-imposed problems. Nothing will change unless a Gordon England or hopefully Bill Lynn go out and kick some b**t. A good starting point is to take their money away. But not put it into a BTA (which is just a public works project for B-school program management types).

It’s was during Oboom Boom Campaign in 08. “DipStick”

No Oboom Boom said it

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