By Charles S. Clark
Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has waded into the debate on reorganizing the federal government for the Information Age.
In a speech Wednesday to the moderately conservative Ripon Society, Rumsfeld said, "Our government is still basically functioning in the structure that dates back to the Truman administration." He singled out the National Security Council as having an especially tough job moving things forward because of "turf-conscious" congressional committees and subcommittees.
And as a positive model for reorganization of all agencies, he pointed to the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act, which Congress passed to restructure the military and streamline the military commands.
Rumsfeld called for a dramatic, governmentwide approach to modernization that reflects a new 21st century era -- one comparable to the end of the Cold War. "I don't think there's any way to do it piecemeal," he said. "The director of national intelligence legislation and the Homeland Security legislation are not the kind of models you want to follow."
Rumsfeld harkened back to years immediately following World War II when he was asked to weigh in on proposals for Pentagon budget cuts. "When I came to this town in the late 1950s, we were spending about 10 percent of GDP on defense. Today, it's about 3.8 percent," he noted. "You're not going to balance the budget -- you're not going to deal with the problem of the debt -- off the Defense Department. It's in the entitlements."