DoD Panel: Contract Out More

DoD Panel: Contract Out More

A Defense Department advisory panel has proposed contracting out support services now provided by agencies within the department.

The new proposal, by a task force of the Defense Science Board, would eliminate much of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, the Defense Commissary Agency, and the Defense Information Systems Agency. The task force estimated DoD would save $7 billion to $12 billion a year by privatizing these and other support functions.

The Defense Science Board, which is made up primarily of corporate executives and retired military officers, set up the task force to conduct the study at the request of the Pentagon. to determine what the effects of outsourcing would be on DoD services and personnel. They found that up to 400,000 positions could be eliminated by 2002. Many workers would be relocated or would go to work for private contractors. Reductions in force would be a last resort, the task force report said.

Services targetted in the privatization proposal included depot maintenance, some information systems functions, finance and accounting services, health care, training, and military commissaries (grocery stores for military personnel). The task force said any support service that is not conducted in front-line battlefield military operations should be considered for privatization.

Deputy Secretary of Defense John White said the task force made a "powerful case" for its proposals, but since the Defense Science Board is only an advisory organization, its recommendations are not binding. Historically, Members of Congress have resisted efforts at wide-scale privatization of defense services.

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