06 December 2016

Your Winnings, Sir

I'm shocked! Shocked! To find that gambling is going on this establishment

But their gold plated toilets are amazing*

The Pentagon says that healthcare costs are killing it.  To paraphrase a phony Willy Sutton quote, that ain't where the money is
The Pentagon decided to look for waste and inefficiency in the Defense Department, and rather unsurprisingly, they found it.

Their response was to cover it up, because as Charlie Pierce pithily notes, "The only institution better than the Pentagon at poor-mouthing its luxurious budgets is Major League Baseball."

You know, if I were in the business of, "Draining the swamp," I would start in the places that a most obviously mixture of muck and water that risk sucking people under.

At the top of that list is that large funny shaped building across the Potomac from the Jefferson Memorial:
The Pentagon has buried an internal study that exposed $125 billion in administrative waste in its business operations amid fears Congress would use the findings as an excuse to slash the defense budget, according to interviews and confidential memos obtained by The Washington Post.

Pentagon leaders had requested the study to help make their enormous back-office bureaucracy more efficient and reinvest any savings in combat power. But after the project documented far more wasteful spending than expected, senior defense officials moved swiftly to kill it by discrediting and suppressing the results.

The report, issued in January 2015, identified “a clear path” for the Defense Department to save $125 billion over five years. The plan would not have required layoffs of civil servants or reductions in military personnel. Instead, it would have streamlined the bureaucracy through attrition and early retirements, curtailed high-priced contractors and made better use of information technology.
High-priced contractors is how DoD officials and General Officers insure that they have a comfortable retirement:  If you overpay private players for stuff you should do yourself, when it comes time to retire, you get a very respectable sinecure from those same contractors.

The data showed that the Defense Department was paying a staggering number of people — 1,014,000 contractors, civilians and uniformed personnel — to fill back-office jobs far from the front lines. That workforce supports 1.3 million troops on active duty, the fewest since 1940.


or the military, the major allure of the study was that it called for reallocating the $125 billion for troops and weapons. Among other options, the savings could have paid a large portion of the bill to rebuild the nation’s aging nuclear arsenal, or the operating expenses for 50 Army brigades.

But some Pentagon leaders said they fretted that by spotlighting so much waste, the study would undermine their repeated public assertions that years of budget austerity had left the armed forces starved of funds. Instead of providing more money, they said, they worried Congress and the White House might decide to cut deeper.

So the plan was killed. The Pentagon imposed secrecy restrictions on the data making up the study, which ensured no one could replicate the findings. A 77-page summary report that had been made public was removed from a Pentagon website.


Afterward, board members briefed Work. They were expecting an enthusiastic response, but the deputy defense secretary looked uneasy, according to two people who were present.

He singled out a page in the report. Titled “Warfighter Currency,” it showed how saving $125 billion could be redirected to boost combat power. The money could cover the operational costs for 50 Army brigades, or 3,000 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters for the Air Force, or 10 aircraft-carrier strike groups for the Navy.

“This is what scares me,” he said, according to the two people present. Work explained he was worried Congress might see it as an invitation to strip $125 billion from the defense budget and spend it somewhere else.


In briefings that month, uniformed military leaders were receptive at first. They had long groused that the Pentagon wasted money on a layer of defense bureaucracies — known as the Fourth Estate — that were outside the control of the Army, Air Force and Navy. Military officials often felt those agencies performed duplicative services and oversight.

But the McKinsey consultants had also collected data that exposed how the military services themselves were spending princely sums to hire hordes of defense contractors.

For example, the Army employed 199,661 full-time contractors, according to a confidential McKinsey report obtained by The Post. That alone exceeded the combined civil workforce for the Departments of State, Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, and Housing and Urban Development.
As I noted above, these contracts are a part of the system of back end bribery that permeates our government:
  1. Give goodies to contractors
  2. Retire
  3. Get a good paying not particularly rigorous job so that they next guy in your position knows which side his bread is buttered on.
  4. ???
  5. Profit!
At some point, this whole rotten edifice is going to collapse like a bunch of overcooked broccoli.

*I would like to offer my sincere and heartfelt apology to whoever plays the tuba in the Marine Corps band: I was a bit drunk when I took a crap in it.
Underpants gnomes, dude, underpants gnomes. Get with the program.


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