Skip to comments.Staff Size, DOD Overhead and the F-35
Posted on 03/16/2013 12:10:37 PM PDT by TWhiteBear
Buried in Rajiv Chandrasekarans long and depressing article on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is an interesting statistic. The F-35 program office employs 2,000 people.
For some perspective, heres a list of offices, staffs, agencies, and commands and their estimated staff size (not including contractors):
Pacom 3,200 Joint Staff 2,800 OSD 2,700 Centcom 2,000 Defense Logistics Agency 27,000
I know that the Joint Strike Fighter is an inordinately complex acquisition program that, after years of neglect and mismanagement, requires diligent oversight, but its still just a single acquisition program. And yet it employs the same number of people as Centcom, which hasnt exactly been starved of work in the last decade.
As the Departments budget grew after 9/11, so too did the overhead. Overhead consumes about 40% of the budget. As of FY10, that was $240 billion, equivalent to the entire Israeli economy. Weve been trying to reduce it for years.
In 1997, Secretary of Defense William Cohen created a task force called the Defense Reform Initiative and tasked it to find ways to improve the organization and procedures in the Department by recommending organizational reforms, reductions in management overhead and streamlined business practices. The task force recommended: 1) OSD and associated activities personnel will be reduced 33% from FY 1996 levels; 2) the Joint Staff and associated activities personnel will be reduced 29% from FY 1996; and 3) Defense Agencies personnel will be reduced 21% over the next five years.
In 2010, Secretary Gates tasked the Defense Business Board with repeating the exercise. Again, a task force recommended reducing overhead by streamlining processes and eliminating positions. Some, like dissolving Joint Forces Command, were implemented (though most of these positions simply transferred to the Joint Staff). Gates also identified 102 general officer / flag officer (GOFO) billets to be eliminated, 65 of which were supposed to be eliminated no later than this month. To date, only 31 have been eliminated, mostly 1-stars.
And these are just the two most recent iterations of the game. Studies recommending efficiencies and reducing staff size go back to 1956. They all say the same thing.
The sequester is stupid. Theres no defense for reducing a departments budget by slicing every line item by an equal amount. Not when theres so much fat available. But its laughable when people act like the budget cant be cut by another penny. To make that claim is to either betray an ignorance of how the Department actually spends money or put political ideology before analysis.
Lt Gen Christopher Bogdan, the F-35 program officer, recently announced his intention to streamline his office by trimming staff. Putting aside for a moment the almost comical goal of keeping JSF costs under control by trimming some staff, Ive got one thing to say.
Good luck, sir!
You’ve got a watcher to watch the watcher, to watch the watcher, to watch the watcher ...
I read several years ago that Eglin was going to be the F-35 base for training.
I still have no idea if they actually have one flying.
Here is the Rajiv Chandrasekaran article.
Before I retired, I worked at a large program office in the DC area. There would be weekly meeting where almost 300 people would show up. Were all these people necessary? Of course not. Many of them were support contractors making $100+/hour.
A lot of retired military go to work for SAIC, MITRE, IDA, and any number of Beltway bandits. In some cases, their experience is needed. In other cases, however, they’re just milking the System.
Somewhere, Pukin Dog is smiling...
My office in OSD (DOT&E)has one GS-15 Action Officer for oversight of F-35 testing. He probably has three or four IDA (FFRDC) contractor supporters full or part-time. We have continuing “issues” with the F-35 program regarding deficiencies discovered in tests. The PEO/PMO attitude seems to be to outgun the enemy—us. What effect this overstaffing has on the continuous cost increases of the F-35 program I don’t know. But I do know that manufacturer and vendor manhours come at a fully burdened cost, while our relatively few hours are dollar-for-dollar in taxpayer money. That is, the taxpayer spends a dollar and gets a dollar’s worth of work.
I worked for Uncle for 30+ years. Any budget can be cut by 10 to 12 percent without damage to the program. Note: There is the Washington Monument Sysdrome. If you are going to cut the Park Services budget, the will use the cut to close the Washington Monument. Cut the high visability progrom first to show how much it hurts.