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The Pentagon Reportedly Concealed Internal Study Revealing It Wasted $125 Billion

The Pentagon. (David B. Gleason / CC 2.0)

President-elect Donald Trump campaigned on the promise that he would increase the Defense Department budget, but could new evidence of fiscal irresponsibility change his policy?

Monday, The Washington Post published an investigative report revealing that Pentagon officials purposely buried evidence that it was wasting billions of dollars on its business operations.

Craig Whitlock and Bob Woodward write:

Pentagon leaders had requested the study to help make their enormous back-office bureaucracy more efficient and reinvest any savings in combat power. But after the project documented far more wasteful spending than expected, senior defense officials moved swiftly to kill it by discrediting and suppressing the results.

The report, issued in January 2015, identified “a clear path” for the Defense Department to save $125 billion over five years. The plan would not have required layoffs of civil servants or reductions in military personnel. Instead, it would have streamlined the bureaucracy through attrition and early retirements, curtailed high-priced contractors and made better use of information technology. …

But some Pentagon leaders said they fretted that by spotlighting so much waste, the study would undermine their repeated public assertions that years of budget austerity had left the armed forces starved of funds. Instead of providing more money, they said, they worried Congress and the White House might decide to cut deeper.

So the plan was killed. The Pentagon imposed secrecy restrictions on the data making up the study, which ensured no one could replicate the findings. A 77-page summary report that had been made public was removed from a Pentagon website.

Trump has not said anything regarding the Post’s findings, but has spent the last few days criticizing the government’s relationship with aircraft manufacturer Boeing over concerns of high costs.

“Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion,” Trump tweeted Tuesday. “Cancel order!”

The Post notes that the Pentagon’s decision not to cut costs based on the suggestions offered in the buried report will lead to long-term ramifications.

“Under the 2011 Budget Control Act, the Pentagon will be forced to stomach $113 billion in automatic cuts over four years unless Congress and Trump can agree on a long-term spending deal by October,” Whitlock and Woodward state. “Playing a key role in negotiations will probably be Trump’s choice for defense secretary, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis.”

Read the entire report here.

—Posted by Emma Niles

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