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Congress to scrutinize rationale for military contracting cuts

Rosalind Helderman

A subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will hold hearings on Defense Secretary Robert Gates' decision to cut the Pentagon's military contracting budget by 10 percent a year for the next three years.

The hearings come in response to a request by U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D), his office said. Connolly requested further congressional oversight into Gates' decision in a letter to the subcommittee's chairwoman sent Wednesday.

"While I commend the Secretary's goal of better controlling defense costs, I question the justification for such actions," he wrote. "These latest proposals no doubt will have significant ramifications on federal management, staffing and procurement, and they deserve tougher scrutiny before we sink additional time and resources into such an effort without having a better idea of whether it will in fact produce the desired results."

Virginia's congressional delegation has been protesting the Defense Department budget shifts since they were announced by Gates on Monday. Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Jim Webb (D) questioned whether Gates could shutter the Joint Forces Command, a military installation employing more than 6,000 in the Hampton Roads area, without going through the official Base Realignment and Closure process.

But Connolly and others in Northern Virginia have been focused on the military contracting issue. ""No rationale was given and no analysis was provided to justify such cuts. One trembles at the thought of the disruptions, dislocations, cost overruns, and termination costs associated with such a plan," he said in a statement.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  August 12, 2010; 11:47 AM ET
Categories:  Gerald E. Connolly , Rosalind Helderman  
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If contractors stop working to support federal employees and the military in DoD, it will shine the spotlight on the actual qualifications and abilities of these people.

I don't want our national defense to suffer, but when the president, Congress, and the American people realize it is the contractors who are performing the work, and federal employees are simply signing the documents and taking credit, perhaps we can have a realistic discussion on why these federal employees deserve so much in taxpayer-funded benefits while private industry (including those same contractors) don't.

Posted by: cibor | August 12, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

cibor: I do agree with what you are saying. Federal employees don't produce something, they are there to serve the public interest. But, the problem is that the private sector has become too dependent upon tax dollars to generate jobs. What needs to happen is that the private sector needs to get more into commercial R&D to help out other business sectors rather than gorging on roast duck at the public feeding trough.

Posted by: kitten2 | August 12, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Our DOD spending is not sustainable. We must cut back. Begin with redundant agencies and projects the DOD doesn't want, or need. The DOD budget should not be a jobs program, nor be used as porkbarrel constituency bribes.

Posted by: jckdoors | August 12, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

kitten2, I may have been unclear.

I started out working as a federal employee in 1975 after passing the highly competitive PACE exam. Everyone who wanted to apply for a professional federal government job that year (over 200,00 took the exam) had to have at least a BA/BS degree and, as it turned out, score in the top 94th percentile.

I went into the 1102 series, which was the contract management profession. I left the government in 1981 as a GS-12 Contracting Officer because Jimmy Carter had abolished the PACE exam and the requirement of a college degree to allow people to enter the federal workforce with a high school degree based on filling a quota based on race and sex. The quality of federal workers plummeted.

Now I work with GS-14/15 Contracting Officers who cannot write, spell, read or comprehend beyond the 7th grade level. They are incapable of doing their jobs, so they hire contractors to do their work, and they sign it as though they did the work. And they get financial bonuses.

If these federal employees ever had to do their work on their own, they would fail. Acquisitions and procurements would come to an immediate halt.

Federal programs that are necessary would stop and then fail.

My point was simply that this would expose the incompetents for what they are: fat, greedy and lazy people feeding off the tax payers and producing nothing.

Unfortunately these people are Union People, and short of treason, they cannot be fired.

Posted by: cibor | August 12, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

New Independent Green TV campaign commercial. Direct.

Jeremiah Heaton, our Independent Greens of Virginia candidate in Virginia’s 9th (that’s mountain country near the borders of North Carolina and Tennessee) has launched a new TV commercial. It is against special interest money in politics.

Jeremiah is a U.S. Army veteran, husband, father, and successful small businessman, and farmer. Jeremiah has also worked in the mines. He lauched his congressional campaign last year in a unique way: with a speech in the middle eastern country, United Arab Emirates. Jeremiah called for bringing the American troops home from both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Jeremiah was elected to the local county board of supervisors at 28 years old. He owns, and with his wife and young daughters, operates an old style general store with a modern studio, and dance hall. It is in Damascus, Virginia. They play blue grass music every Saturday night. The place is packed with people. It’s broadcast live on the radio with different acts every week.

Here’s his campaign commercial on youtube. You can also watch is campaign announcement there.

Want to save taxpayer dollars..listen to Jeremiah, and vote for the Independent Greens Jermiah Heaton.

Posted by: CareyCampbell | August 12, 2010 8:21 PM | Report abuse

i tried to tell dod we are spending billions on civilian cooks gaurds on gates use our nilitary personal for this quit buying outragesly start useing your head dems and republic jimmy sniper

Posted by: jimmymishoe92 | August 13, 2010 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Everyone that is talking bad about DOD civilians is either blind or dumb. There are many hard working DOD civilians that work hard at their jobs every day. There are many thousands of DOD civilians that currently deployed and putting their lives on the line in the name of the US government. They are very dedicated people that should not be having their name drug through the mud as some of you are doing.

I agree that are some out there that should have their jobs and I wonder how they got them but that is also true with many of the contractors that I have worked with in my 25 years working with the DOD. Talking of rip-offs, take a look at what contractors working for the government are getting paid and as some of you do not seem to understand, it is with TAXPAYER’s money. Why do you think that these wars are costing so much? Take a look at what the government is paying contractors to do things that government workers can do as well and cheaper. I am currently deployed to Kandahar Afghanistan and the government is paying in the neighborhood of $50.00 per meal, per person. The food is terrible and I would not even given it to someone starving.

Cibor – I am going to guess that you are one of these over paid contractors now ripping the government off. By the way, most of these contractors that are taking our taxpayers money are not even paying taxes and neither are most of their workers.
Now who is ripping who off.

Posted by: deployedcivilian | August 14, 2010 5:37 AM | Report abuse

Get the unions out of military contracts; cut the over runs in civilian contracts; combine the entire military branches into a single unified force. The savings on the elimination of union contracts alone will enable to military to have a surplus. Why do we have civilian military post engineers? I would have thought that an expanded role of the Corps of Engineers to maintain and repair facilities would suffice? Why have unions, who make far more than the average construction companies, not been eliminated so that a private small business could do the same job that expensive union contracts demand.
Why have all the seperate branches of military who do not; cannot; will not, communicate with each other.
Obama may be using the opportunity with the economy, to weaken the resolve of the US in this muslum world to reduce our strengths to that of the third world and thus on an equal basis with the world.
Leadership in the world is not an objective of this Obama admin.

Posted by: lhudson828 | August 15, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

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