June 28th, 2010
06:47 PM ET
12 years ago

Pentagon eyes $100 billion in savings by trimming overhead

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/06/28/art.gates.gi.afp.jpg caption="Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced a new cost cutting strategy on Monday."]

Washington (CNN) - The Pentagon is out to save $100 billion over the next five years in a major push to cut overhead costs, according to U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Gates officially unveiled his plan at a Pentagon news conference Monday, announcing he is putting department acquisition chief Ashton Carter in charge of finding where the $100 billion will come from in the budgets beginning in 2012.

"The department's leadership has already taken strong action in this area, and needs to do more," Gates said.

"Other savings can be found within programs and activities we do need, by conducting them more efficiently. ... I'm confident we'll succeed," he said.

The defense secretary has been discussing his plan to be more fiscally smart in the way the Pentagon spends money, often getting visibly upset when verbalizing his displeasure with congressional plans to force the purchase of what he calls unneeded and wasteful programs.

He has urged President Barack Obama to veto the 2011 defense budget if lawmakers keep programs he considers a waste of money, such as additional C-17 cargo planes or an alternate engine design for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Gates also recently ordered the restructuring of the F-35 programs because of massive delays and cost overruns.

He has said he would put the savings back into personnel, military units and future war-fighting capabilities.

Carter said the cost-saving plan will save about 2 to 3 percent a year by forcing contract companies to absorb cost overruns, which now are put onto the Pentagon.

He said it will also encourage more competition between companies. "In the rest of the economy, we expect this [competition]," Carter said.

"You get a better computer every year, and cheaper. But we haven't seen productivity growth in the defense economy, more has been costing more, and we need to reverse that trend and restore affordability to our programs," he said.

Filed under: Pentagon • Robert Gates
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. phoenix86

    You can save $1 trillion by repealing Obamacare, another $500 billion by terminating the Obama stimulus package that has yet been spent.

    June 28, 2010 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  2. Jack

    Overhead, as in unwinable wars?

    June 28, 2010 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  3. thor

    Interesting the savings will only begin in 2012.Why wait?This is only a pie dream sort of like the savings derived from healthcare reform.

    June 28, 2010 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  4. Naqib

    5 years to save it...

    Obama can spend 7 times that in 90 days...

    Better dig deeper than that Sir

    June 28, 2010 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  5. Larry

    The Pentagon can save $720 billion over 5 years by withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Delays and cost overruns are bogus. They just reflect the practice of military contractors unethically adding charges to military contracts.

    June 28, 2010 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  6. Smith in Oregon

    With 1 Trillion dollars going from American taxpayers to The Pentagon into shadow and discretionary spending per YEAR, 100 Billion is only 10% of a single year of US Military debt on the American Taxpayers.

    America should realize when the US Military pulls it's equipment out of Iraq and Afghanistan, the American taxpayers are going to be called upon to greatly replace nearly all of that equipment with new, hyper-expensive multi-generational upgrades which will cost many times MORE than 100 Billion taxpayer dollars. So, beware that bill is coming down the pipe!

    America is the largest producer and exporter of weapons thru-out the entire world. 1 Trillion American taxpayer dollars per year goes into making ever more lethal weapons and pouring those out into eager hands around the world to use either on their own people or some imagined foe.

    American's need to entirely insist that America's spending on The Pentagon and its enormous shadow agency's and black operations be severely trimmed, cut, and phased out entirely.

    American's need to decide if their Health, Prosperity, Education and Future are far less important than producing machine guns who does literally nothing to help your health, prosperity, education and America's future.

    June 28, 2010 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  7. Laughing at the lemmings

    If you seriously want to cut spending, defense is the place to go. There's more bulk, pork and waste in their budget than in any other.

    June 28, 2010 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  8. Four and The Door

    This is an excellent start and other Departments should take notice of this effort for their own contributions. For instance, what's up with the Department of State's budget increasing 41% to $52 billion in 2010 Secretary Clinton? Gettin' a little sloppy with our money lately while we all are cutting back?

    June 28, 2010 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  9. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    This country can't keep paying contractors to continue building tanks, etc. like the U.S. is a storage facility. We've dumped enough tanks and hummers in wore torn Iraq and left them as we will do in Afghan. Doesn't anyone question why?

    June 28, 2010 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  10. Raul Dominguez

    Outstanding! If Defense can be cut, then we can start a real debate about making further cuts to wasteful programs. And as a 48 yr old, I am open to reducing medicare and social security payments or delaying them if it will help reduce the deficit. We have to start now.

    June 28, 2010 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  11. Keith in Austin

    Why does this sound like a concentrated effort toward weakening our National Defense? Obviously, Gates is trying to score political points while broadcasting to our enemies that we're cutting corners in the Defense Department!

    June 28, 2010 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  12. Hugo

    Doesn't anyone else see the irony in this? One billion in five years, do you realize that the interest on 13 trillion dollars at say 4% is around .54 cents per second for 36,000 years? Our manufacturing and industrial jobs were all exported to China and Mexico (thanks Bill and others) and our Nation unemployment rate is hovering around 10% reported with an actual 20% unreported rate. The Government in all it's infinite wisdom shuts down oil drilling and sticks BP with the tab, so we all here about the poor oil workers not working due to government shutting them down. Well guess what, there are millions of Americans that have been out of work for two or more years thanks to our government watch dogs sleeping at their post. You want to save some money and balance the budget, deregulate to allow manufacturers and industrial processes back in the US, Export illegal labor, Cut government spending, Get the F out of Afghanistan, grow a pair and stand up for what our Nation is. This is America, land of the FREE not land of government oppression!

    June 28, 2010 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  13. Real Patriot

    Cutting waste in the Defense Dept is down right UNAMERICAN...right my conservative friends??? Why actually cut lots of waste in a huge department when it's so much more fun to complain about a little not-for-profit organization like ACORN?!?!

    June 28, 2010 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  14. works for me

    YES... someone's getting the message!
    There's a lot more to be had... just look for it and it's not just in the Dept. of Defense.
    You all know where it is... end the underlying greed that fuels the fires of demise, in the USA... in all Departments!

    June 28, 2010 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  15. Brian L

    Republicans will blast this move although they criticize Obama for the budget deficit.

    June 28, 2010 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  16. Colin Brown

    Presumably by overhead he means the civilian government.

    June 28, 2010 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |