[FoRK] so is it for real now?

Stephen Williams sdw at lig.net
Mon Oct 13 15:01:59 PDT 2008

J. Andrew Rogers wrote:
> On Oct 13, 2008, at 1:24 PM, geege schuman wrote:
>> When McCain talks about cuts in military spending (and he has 
>> referred to
>> this in each debate) where are *his* specific cuts?
> As best I can tell, he is talking about the procurement process, but I 
> don't think that will produce significant savings if for no other 
> reason than that this is a major mechanism for Congress to distribute 
> pork.  Congress, and to a lesser extent, the Executive are responsible 
> much of the excess procurement overhead because they reshuffle budgets 
> and requirements every two years in an effort to redirect funding to 
> their districts and pet projects.  As long as the government keeps 
> cutting checks, contractors will do their best to accommodate whatever 
> foolishness gets promoted from year to year. It is wasteful that the 
> government behaves this way, but contractors get paid for doing what 
> they are told, not for what is smart in some kind of broad policy sense.
"Procurement", with respect to DoD, is practically everything that is 
not salaries.  Practically everything is in some procurement cycle, even 
if it is just maintenance or management.

> And as a practical matter, even with all that pork the procurement 
> process is still an economic net positive over the long-term. Even if 
> Congress suddenly became fiscally prudent and reasonable with respect 
> to long-term military spending, it would still realistically only 
> shave maybe several tens of billions annually. RD&P simply are not 
> that much of the budget. Overseas deployments are where most of the 
> rest of any reasonable and significant defense cuts could occur -- it 
> is not the CapEx but the OpEx that makes the military expensive.
> So in a nutshell, I do not think McCain can significantly reduce 
> procurement waste because the root cause is Congress, which benefits 
> greatly from said waste.  It is wishful thinking on McCain's part, but 
> it is a cheap political promise because he can later blame Congress 
> for preventing meaningful reform.
> BTW, one thing I have long given Rumsfeld credit for is forcibly 
> killing some popular pork-saturated procurement programs that won him 
> few friends in Congress.
> Cheers,
> J. Andrew Rogers
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