Three years ago, the Defense Department kicked off a program to improve efficiencies across the Pentagon. The plan was projected to save DOD some $178 billion over a five-year period.
As of today, the program is a complete failure.
In a report released Tuesday, the Government Accountability Office found that while some within the military have begun to develop protocols to determine if money is being spent wisely, “those efforts have largely occurred on an ad hoc basis. As a result, DOD lacks a systematic basis for evaluating the impact of its efficiency initiatives on improving program efficiency or effectiveness.”
In other words, a program meant to save DOD money by eliminating inefficiencies is being managed, well, inefficiently.
“Information on all initiatives was now unavailable to DOD decision makers, thus hindering their ability to assess implementation progress across the full range of initiatives,” GAO determined.
GAO found that the program is not working because DOD higher-ups have yet to issue guidance to the service branches detailing how inefficiencies could be found and eliminated. Individual branches have been attempting to do this on their own, but don’t have a mechanism to track how much is being saved.
DOD’s original plan was to “undertake a department-wide initiative to assess how the department is staffed, organized, and operated with the goal of reducing excess overhead costs, and reinvesting those savings in sustaining DOD’s current force structure.” The money saved would be reinvested in the Pentagon at a time when its budget is being cut. But the department never specifically outlined how this should be done.
“To ensure more complete and consistent reporting, we recommended that DOD develop guidance that would standardize definitions and methodologies for DOD components to use in reporting their efficiency initiatives and savings, including defining specific types of costs associated with implementing its initiatives,” GAO wrote in its report.
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