WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Dick Cheney said Thursday the Pentagon plans to eliminate 50,000 civilian and 44,000 military jobs as part of a fundamental reorganization of Pentagon operations expected to save taxpayers more than $70 billion over the next six years.
In a blueprint designed to allow the Defense Department "to generate greater efficiencies," Cheney proposed to consolidate several management and information functions at the Pentagon and allow staffing levels to drop through attrition.
The 94,000 positions that would be eliminated are part of a larger reduction of military personnel announced last year by Cheney in response to a diminished Soviet threat and domestic budgetary constraints. The overall program is slated to shrink the U.S. military by roughly 25%, eliminating 700,000 uniformed personnel and 200,000 civilian workers by 1995.
The Pentagon has said it expects to make most of the cuts by not replacing employees who leave their Defense Department jobs.
The reorganization outlined by Cheney on Thursday is designed to reduce the infrastructure that supports American military activities. Unless he is allowed to reduce both the military and civilian support structures that supply U.S. armed forces, Cheney has warned, taxpayers will not realize significant cost savings from the smaller military.
Cheney unveiled the restructuring effort just two weeks after he proposed the closure of some 43 military bases and the shrinkage of 28 installations nationwide.
For companies that do business with the Defense Department and the military services, the new management reforms are likely to bring major changes, according to Deputy Defense Secretary Donald Atwood, who oversaw the reorganization plan.
"The whole approach has been one of centralizing policies, procedures, methods, standards and systems but, at the same time, leaving the implementation or execution of these within the departments, within the agencies, and within the military services," Atwood said.
Computer-development and information-management systems that are now scattered throughout the military services and the Defense Department will be collapsed into a centralized Corporate Information Management office. A single Defense Contract Management Command, rather than a proliferation of service and civilian offices, will negotiate bids, administer contracts, process payments and oversee defense manufacturing programs.
A Defense Finance and Accounting Service will bring order and unity to 250 different accounting systems that, for defense contractors, have proven to be a morass of inconsistent and often contradictory accounting rules, Pentagon officials said.
Meanwhile, the perplexing network of rules and guidelines that govern Defense Department acquisitions will be trimmed by 76%, they said. The resulting list of directives fit within a three-part document that creates a single, uniform acquisition system applicable to the entire department.
"This is not easy to do," Cheney said during a Pentagon news conference to present the reform package. "We are not the first management team at the Department of Defense who's tried to improve the management of the Department of Defense, nor will we be the last because there will be some left even when we finish."