The McKeon Group is closely tracking recently proposed legislation introduced by Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX-13). The bill is called the Comprehensive Pentagon Bureaucracy Reform and Reduction Act and it would cut Pentagon support agencies by up to 25 percent and shut down others entirely.
Chairman Thornberry announced the proposal on Tuesday, April 17th which aimed at eliminating “bureaucratic waste” to find more than $25 billion to divert into war fighting priorities. This proposed bill comes after Congress passed a two-year budget deal that boosts defense to $700 billion in fiscal 2018 and $716 billion in fiscal 2019.
There would be about $7 billion worth of contracts cut that would greatly affect various private sector companies.
Thornberry told reporters in Washington, “If I am not making somebody nervous, I am not doing anything.”
Chairman Thornberry introduced this bill because of what he sees as uncontrolled growth within the Defense Department’s “fourth estate” agencies, which are supported by 200,000 civilian personnel and 600,000 contractors, at a cost of more than $100 billion per year.
“All of the savings and efficiency have to stay within DoD to get more capability into the war fighter faster,” Thornberry said. “To summarize the whole thing from my perspective, it is to reduce the overhead to put more resources at the tip of the spear.”
Thornberry proposed eliminating these agencies within DoD:
- Defense Information Systems Agency, whose information technology support mission would be folded into U.S. Cyber Command.
- Defense Technical Information Center, which acquires, stores and disseminates scientific and technical information to aid in defense research and development.
- Office of Economic Adjustment, which aids communities hurt by defense program changes, including base closures.
- Defense Technology Security Administration, which guides policy on U.S. arms transfers overseas to safeguard America’s military edge and prevent the diversion of defense-related goods to terrorists.
- Test Resource Management Center, which coordinates among DoD test and evaluation facilities.
- Defense Human Resources Activity, which guides and implements human resource initiatives, budgets, policies and programs.
- Washington Headquarters Services, which provides operational and administrative services to the DoD. Hiring a senior executive service employee through the agency, Thornberry argued, “is considered a success if it takes less than nine months.” 
If the legislation was adopted as it currently stands, the Pentagon would begin eliminating agencies by January 1, 2021. The plans for the elimination of such agencies and other parts of DoD would have to be provided to Congress by March 1, 2020.
Department of Defense combat-support and intel agencies would be exempt from the proposed legislation. Those DoD agencies include: Defense Intelligence Agency, the Defense Health Agency, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency.
Chairman Thornberry is looking for input and comments on his proposed legislation prior to adding it to the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The top House Armed Services Democrat, Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09) warned that he has “serious concerns” about the draft legislation and believes, “this proposal could do serious damage to DoD’s information infrastructure, testing ranged and community support, as well as the basic DoD function in the National Capital Region by eliminating critical agencies in one stroke.” Congressman Smith finished by saying, “those are important functions that I don’t think we should discard if we haven’t done careful study and analysis.” 
The McKeon Group will continue to closely track this legislation as it transforms through the legislative process within the House Armed Services Committee.
- Gould, Joe. “Major Bill Aims to Slash Pentagon Bureaucracy.” Defense News. April 17, 2018. Accessed April 24, 2018. https://www.defensenews.com/congress/2018/04/17/major-bill-aims-to-slash-pentagon-bureaucracy/.
- Kheel, Rebecca. “Top Dem Expresses ‘serious Concerns’ about Plan to Cut $25B from Pentagon Agencies.” The Hill. April 18, 2018. Accessed April 24, 2018. http://thehill.com/policy/defense/383715-top-dem-expresses-serious-concerns-about-plan-to-cut-25b-from-pentagon.