Defense

Esper announces Fourth Estate review

Defense Secretary Mark Esper listens to a reporter question at an Aug 28, 2019 press conference - photo via video stream 

The Defense Department has launched a review of its fourth estate agencies to look for efficiencies in time, money, and personnel, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced Aug. 28 at a rare Pentagon press conference.

The defense secretary said a "defense-wide review process" meant to "identify time, money, and manpower that can be re-allocated to our highest priorities" was underway.

"We have begun this process with a focus on the Fourth Estate and will eventually address other parts of the Department of Defense enterprise," Esper said during his first on-camera Pentagon press briefing since taking office in July.

Esper, formerly the Army secretary, instituted a service-wide zero-based budgeting approach that uncovered more than $30 billion in cost savings—a process that analysts anticipated would come to the Pentagon as it gears up for its next audit. Starting with the Fourth Estate, or the DOD’s administrative agencies, jibes with previous congressional proposals to shrink its budget numbers.

The defense secretary didn’t specifically mention whether the review related to the 2020 defense authorization bill that is headed to conference, but did urge Congress to pass it on time or risk stifling the military’s modernization efforts.

"We are thankful for the two-year budget deal, which will give us the predictability needed to advance the [National Defense Strategy] to protect this great country," Esper said. He also called on Congress to pass the Defense appropriation and authorization bills on time to avoid recourse to a continuing resolution.

"As I’ve expressed to Congress on many occasions, including yesterday, continuing resolutions harm our military readiness and stifle our modernization efforts," he said.

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is a staff writer at FCW covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.


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