Learn from the Past

The Pentagon needs to stop counting on efficiency savings that have yet to be realized or it could face even more problems in the future, analysts with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments told reporters June 21. After all, the United States doesn’t exactly have a great track record when it comes to achieving predicted savings, said Todd Harrison, CSBA senior fellow for defense budget studies. “It’s really one of those things where you should always try to be more efficient,” said Harrison. “But, don’t bank on the savings is the lesson from the past.” Unfortunately, that’s exactly what Defense Department planners have been doing, even though many acknowledge that the targeted savings are “considered high risk” or that there “is a low probability that we will achieve the savings that are projected,” said Harrison. DOD’s Fiscal 2012 and Fiscal 2013 budgets target $238 billion in efficiency savings through 2017, he said. “But to achieve that full number . . . you have to have a 100 percent success rate in all of these efficiency initiatives. We know that’s unlikely to happen,” he said. (Editor’s note: DOD cites some $210 billion in projected efficiency savings between Fiscal 2012 and Fiscal 2017; see entry below.) (See also CSBA’s Strategy in Austerity report.)