Bipartisan Letter Suggests Pentagon Include Contractors in Staff Cuts

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced the cuts in July. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced the cuts in July. Defense Department

A bipartisan pair of lawmakers has asked the Defense Department to rethink its plan to cut staff by 20 percent at top headquarters offices, asking for the Pentagon to exhaust all other options before taking negative personnel actions.

Reps. Bill Young, R-Fla., and Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., chairman and ranking member of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, said in a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that department cuts should be made after careful analysis, and not based on “arbitrary goals.” Hagel announced the planned workforce reductions in July.

The appropriators called for an organizational review that “considers recommendations to eliminate certain functions and certain contracts entirely, rather than across-the-board cuts to all functions.”

Young and Visclosky emphasized the Pentagon’s legal obligation to conduct a cost comparison before replacing any civilian employees with contract workers.  In trimming the workforce, they said the “total workforce should be considered,” including contractors, and that the review should identify any contractors that are “illegally performing inherently governmental functions.”

“It is imperative that the review subject all three workforces to scrutiny,” the lawmakers said of civilians, military members and contractors, “be based on accurate information, and comply with requirements for workforce management.”

The American Federation of Government Employees, which has long called on the Pentagon to focus on contract employees when making sequestration cuts, applauded the letter.

“Secretary Hagel should closely follow this wise, bipartisan advice,” AFGE National President J. David Cox said. 

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