DOD 'tail' needs a trim

To lower its support costs by billions of dollars, the Defense Department needs to replicate outsourcing efforts such as the Navy Marine Corps Intranet, according to a just-released study conducted by former members of Congress, retired military leaders and former Defense secretaries.

The Tail-to-Tooth Commission report said DOD can save as much as $30 billion by adopting modern business practices, such as opening functions that are not inherently governmental to private- sector competition.

The commission took its name from the metaphor used to describe the relationship between DOD's spending on war readiness—the "tooth"—and the costs that support DOD's infrastructure—the "tail." DOD spent at least 60 percent of its budget on support costs, for a total of $744 billion from 1997 to 2001. That's too much, according to commission members.

Former senator Warren Rudman and Josh Weston, retired chairman and chief executive officer of Automatic Data Processing Inc., led the commission on behalf of Business Executives for National Security and helped write the 17-page report.

Political pressures and bureaucratic red tape have stymied some of the Pentagon's efforts to open more than 227,000 jobs for possible outsourcing under the Office of Management and Budget's A-76 guidelines, according to the report.

The authors lauded the Navy for outsourcing voice, video and data services through its NMCI contract and the Army for outsourcing the management of its depot-level logistics systems. Yet much more needs to be done on that front, they added.

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