Ain’t No Such Thing as a Free DOD Report

Last week’s Pentagon report to Congress on Chinese military developments cost the taxpayer $73,212. How do we know? The Defense Department said so on the report’s cover. In fact, since Feb. 1, it’s been DOD’s policy that a cost estimate must accompany “all external and internal reports” as well as any “new program or ceremony produced or sponsored by DOD,” a Pentagon spokeswoman told the Daily Report. Another example is DOD’s Fiscal 2012 defense budget overview document from February. Its price tag: $38,000. This policy is part of the Pentagon’s efficiency initiative that aims to shed wasteful and unnecessary activities and channel more funds towards personnel and equipment modernization. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said last year that the then-forthcoming mandate would help defense officials “determine whether what we are gaining or hope to gain is really worth the cost, either in dollar terms or in the diversion of limited manpower and resources from other missions.” The Pentagon spokeswoman said the “originating organizations are responsible for tallying preparation costs using a standard cost-guidance calculator.” (China report and DOD budget document; caution, large-sized files.)