More Efficiency, Less Waste Starting at the Top, Says Secretary Gates

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flourneyDepartment of Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ call last week for more efficiency and less waste is starting at the top, with Pentagon officials being told they will set an example for the rest of the department, the secretary’s top policy adviser said yesterday.

“We have been put on notice; we are going to start this review for efficiencies with ourselves,” said Michele Flournoy, undersecretary of defense for policy, during an appearance at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Flournoy said she is reviewing her own organizational chart to pinpoint how the office can work more efficiently. She said the ultimate question is, “Where can we get some savings that we can contribute to the pie?”

Flournoy emphasized Gates’ May 8 speech at the Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kan., was about cutting duplicative overhead, bloat and needless spending, not capability.

“It’s not [about] defense cuts,” she said. “It’s saying, ‘We have to become more efficient and make better use of taxpayer dollars in how we operate.’”

Broad reviews of how the Defense Department is organized are just one part of the equation, she said. Gates’ mandate also includes reforming the acquisition process, conserving energy and creating greater efficiencies throughout the department. She said savings would be reinvested where they are most needed to support current security needs and to prepare for future ones.

These efforts began with the fiscal 2010 budget, which Flournoy said represented a “pretty dramatic set of decisions.” The Quadrennial Defense Review and fiscal 2011 budget request build on this start, she added.

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