Retired General Says Pentagon Could Use Help On Cuts By Julian E. Barnes

Washington Wire (wsj.com)
August 2, 2013

Retired Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz hopes that with some outside help the Pentagon will be able to reduce its overhead and tackle the budgetary problems caused by the across-the-board automatic spending cuts.

The Pentagon this week laid out sharp cuts to the armed forces, especially the Army, that will have to occur as a result of mandatory spending reductions. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned that those force reductions would grow far worse if the Pentagon failed to find more efficiencies by controlling the growth of pay and benefits and cutting headquarters staff by at least 20%.

Previous attempts to wring efficiencies out of the Pentagon have not yielded all of the promised savings. But from his new post as president of Business Executives for National Security, Gen. Schwartz believes his group’s members can help the Pentagon with the proposed initiatives.

“We can be helpful to decision makers on how to go about achieving the reduction in overhead they desire,” Gen. Schwartz said. “There is a place for us because our membership has done this. I think we can help with some ideas about setting priorities, acting on those priorities.”

In addition to helping with efficiency initiatives and compensation reforms, Gen. Schwartz hopes his organization can help with initiatives to reduce the disincentives toward government service that business executives and academics encounter as well has helping with demonstration initiatives to improve the Pentagon accounting and auditing process.

The nonpartisan Business Executives for National Security was founded to link senior business leaders with Pentagon decision makers, and Gen. Schwartz said that he intended to tap the passion of the group’s membership to tackle the Pentagon’s tough challenges.

“Our organization exists, and provides a venue, for successful people to give back,” Gen. Schwartz said.

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