DoD bill includes pay raise, downsizing

The House Armed Services Committee Wednesday approved a 4.8 percent military pay raise as part of the $289 billion fiscal 2000 Defense authorization bill.

On a 55-to-1 vote, the committee authorized $8.3 billion more in military spending than President Clinton requested in his fiscal 2000 budget. Clinton requested a 4.4 percent pay raise for civilian and military personnel next year.

Congress endorsed a 4.8 percent raise for civilians in a resolution included in the fiscal 1999 emergency spending bill, which called for military-civilian pay parity.

The committee Wednesday also called for higher military pay raises in the future, using a formula that would base annual raises on the full Employment Cost Index, rather than 0.5 percent less than the index under current law.

The committee approved targeted pay raises for mid-grade and non-commissioned officers, a more generous retirement package, increased housing allowances, and special retention bonuses for aviation officers and nuclear specialists. The committee also recommended the Defense Department study options for offering 401(k)-style plans to military personnel. The Senate has already approved military participation in the civilian Thrift Savings Plan.

In the area of downsizing, the committee recommended a cut of 25,000 personnel in the Defense Department's acquisition workforce in fiscal 2000. To reduce other support functions, the committee recommended a $232 million cut to administrative and support accounts.

In addition, the committee said the Defense Department underestimates the size of its management headquarters staff. The committee asked the Pentagon to count headquarters personnel by function, rather than organization. Doing so will show that more people work at headquarters than the Pentagon has said in the past, the committee believes. In the 1998 Defense authorization bill, Congress instructed the Pentagon to reduce headquarters personnel by 25 percent by 2002.

The committee is devoting $1 billion to information technology, including $279 million for improved information systems security.

"As defense and domestic information infrastructures are closely linked, government and industry must work together to protect the nation's critical information systems infrastructure," the committee said.

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