Armed Services leaders warn Gates about halting work on programs

Setting up a potential clash, top Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee on Monday urged Defense Secretary Robert Gates to halt plans to shut down work on at least two major weapons programs until lawmakers have an opportunity to grill the Pentagon on its decisions.

In a letter to Gates, Armed Services Chairman Howard (Buck) McKeon, R-Calif., and his top lieutenants said they are worried defense officials will issue stop-work orders on pricey Pentagon programs before Congress has the chance to exercise its power of the purse.

"Our immediate concern is that the Defense Department will take precipitous action in the near term that would undercut Congress' ability to pass judgment on the recommendations," according to the letter obtained by National Journal Daily.

Specifically, they say they are worried the Marine Corps will stop work on the $15 billion Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program, a General Dynamics amphibious assault vehicle that weighs in at 80,000 pounds and can skim across the sea at 25 knots. They also raised concerns about ending the Army's surface-launched advanced medium-range air-to-air missile developed by Raytheon, saying it is unclear why the Pentagon opted to halt the program after completing development.

"These questions require diligent consideration prior to the department taking action that would adversely impact the program in the coming weeks," the lawmakers wrote. "We specifically request that no 'stop work' orders be issued until our committee has the opportunity to fully examine all of the efficiencies you have proposed."

Gates announced plans to terminate the EFV and SLAMRAAM programs January 6 as part of a sweeping effort to trim Pentagon spending.

At the core of that initiative are plans to slash $78 billion in defense spending over the next five years while also finding more than $100 billion in unnecessary costs and redirecting those to higher-priority items within the department.

Defense programs -- many of which employ thousands in several different states -- have strong constituencies on Capitol Hill, making it difficult for department officials to convince Congress to terminate them. The EFV, in particular, has support from key lawmakers, including McKeon and Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee Chairman Todd Akin, R-Mo.

Despite the odds against him, Gates has a surprisingly successful track record cutting programs over the last three years, winning far more battles on Capitol Hill than he has lost. And with budget-conscious Republicans in the House open to the idea of curbing Pentagon spending, the popular Defense secretary might get his way again this year.

"No one can defend the expenditure of every dollar and cent over at the Pentagon," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."

McKeon and other Republicans on his panel, however, have been more critical of exposing the military to the types of budget cuts affecting other federal agencies and have vowed to scrub the Pentagon's fiscal year 2012 budget request, due to Congress next month.

Gates and his deputies will have ample opportunities to sell their plan to lawmakers over the next several weeks -- starting Wednesday when Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn and the No. 2 officers from each of the military services testify before the House Armed Services Committee on their "efficiency" plans.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.