Citing a report from Defense News in January 2015 and 28,000 downloads from its website, the Department of Defense pushed back on a claim made by the Washington Post this week that the agency had suppressed a report on wasteful spending.
Ironically, it appears an agency still unable to complete a legally required audit is being transparent on this one issue.
The report [PDF], currently online, recommends the Pentagon cut spending by $125 billion over five years. The proposed savings would come from renegotiating contracts, reducing staff through early retirements, and retraining existing workers to be more efficient.
Though the report was not suppressed as the Washington Post reported, it looks as though it was mostly a waste of time. On Tuesday, a Pentagon official told the New York Times the report was “aspirational” and did not actually offer any specific ways to save the money.
While it is likely true that the report’s headline number of $125 billion was an optimistic projection, a coalition of groups representing different ideological backgrounds, calling itself the “Right/Left Coalition,” offered the Pentagon a specific plan for $38.6 billion in cuts last April. Many of the proposed cuts simply involved weapons programs that had yet to begin, were failing to produce, or were going to be needlessly upgraded. It was a very clear and concise blueprint for saving taxpayer money.
So yes, the Department of Defense does often publish reports that recommend cutting costs. The issue is not suppressing the reports; the issue is that both internal and external recommendations to cut waste, fraud, and abuse go nowhere.