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Summer Savings: DoD Says Effects of Efficiencies Will be Seen by Summer 2011

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The first effects of the Defense Department’s efficiencies will likely be seen by next summer, Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III said Oct. 14.

“There’s great work going on in the Pentagon,” he said. “All of the military departments, all of the combatant commands and all of the various agencies and organizations throughout the Defense Department are working very hard to achieve what the secretary has asked them to do.”

In August, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates provided specifics of his plan to reduce the Pentagon’s budget by $100 billion through efficiencies and other cost-saving measures.

But the plan for savings stretches back to 2009 when Gates began advocating for acquisition reform, and has continued unabated since then, with plans to reduce unnecessary staff, boards and commissions at DoD.

But even efficiencies alone “won’t be enough to get the $100 billion in savings the secretary is seeking,” Lynn said. “What we’re going to need to do is eliminate some lower-priority functions and tasks and organizations to get that kind of savings.”

That includes the controversial move to close the Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va., which has drawn the ire of Virginia lawmakers, who have publicly lambasted the proposal.

Lynn said the era of big defense budget deficits was likely over, and the most important step is changing how people think.

“We need to change people’s thinking so they think about the costs of things they’re doing as well as the value,” he said. “It’s the biggest challenge, but it’s probably the most important endeavor.”

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