Cohen Unveils Defense Department Restructuring Plan
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Nov. 10) -- Vice President Al Gore and Defense Secretary William Cohen today unveiled plans to overhaul, trim and update the Pentagon and its business practices to streamline operations and save money.
"We are going to cut the fat out and build more muscle," said Cohen.
The restructuring is the latest step in the so-called reinventing government initiative by the vice president's office, and is designed to reduce the military bureaucracy.
Gore described the Defense secretary's reform measures as "businesslike defense management, management that is not only up-to-date, but management that will bring America's defense into the next century -- efficient, effective, the strongest in the world by far."
Under the plan, thousands of civilian jobs at the Pentagon will be eliminated and thousands of military personnel will be moved from the Pentagon to the field. "We are getting out of the management business and focusing on our core function: policy," said Cohen.
In addition to savings estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars, officials say the streamlined staff will clear the way for faster, more efficient weapons procurement and a more efficient Pentagon management.
Cohen also announced the military will request two additional rounds of base closings in 2001 and 2005. He emphasized that previous base closings have not always had the devastating impact on local economies that were expected, and in some instances have proved an economic boon.
There have been four previous rounds of base closings recommended by a commission. Congress votes recommendations up or down without amendments; the same process would be used in the two new rounds.
Cohen and Gore focused their remarks on the revamping of Pentagon business practices, which will result in less paperwork and more use of computers.
In another reform, the Defense Department will put more business out for competitive bidding, with the intent of cutting costs. One source said this could save the Pentagon "a couple billion a year" by encouraging competition for contracts.
Cohen described the effort as providing a corporate vision for the Department of Defense. "There isn't any alternative," said Cohen. "These are decisions that have been made and will be carried out."
CNN's John King and Jeanne Meserve contributed to this report.
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