The Defense Department is meeting its goal to cut spending on its civilian workforce. However, it’s spending more on contractors, despite pressure from Congress to reverse that trend.
DoD plans to increase spending on contracting this year and is projected to meet only half of its contractor workforce reduction goals.
DoD cut its contractor spending by $3.2 billion between fiscal 2012 and 2014, meeting 80 percent of the sequestration goal of $4.1 billion. But between fiscal 2014 and 2016, DoD plans to increase its spending by $1.2 billion.
The Government Accountability Office, meanwhile, reports that the Pentagon is on track to cut its civilian workforce by 6.8 percent from fiscal 2012 to 2017, under congressionally mandated sequestration cuts.
The cuts closely resemble the 7 percent decrease expected in the military’s armed services over the same period of time.
“It’s no wonder DoD has had a difficult time implementing these cuts. They were poorly conceived and are arbitrary,” the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal employee union, said in a press release. “They require that spending on civilian personnel and contractors be reduced by no less than spending is reduced on military personnel.”
AFGE, which represents DoD employees, says more than 340,000 active-duty service members carry out non-combat support jobs that could be done more cost effectively by civilian employees. If the Pentagon transferred 25 percent of those jobs to the civil service, AFGE estimates it could save $5.7 billion annually.
“There are far too many military and contractor personnel performing functions that civilian employees can perform for less money,” AFGE said.
The Air Force recently announced a reduction in force to eliminate as many as 1,000 positions from its civilian workforce between now and April. The RIF won’t necessarily mean laying off 1,000 people, but it could mean some employees could find themselves in new jobs at a lower pay grade.
AFGE also took issue with a consulting group’s recommendation to cut the pay and benefits of more than 15,000 federal employees working at DoD commissaries.
The Boston Consulting Group, hired by the Pentagon, recommended moving Defense Commissary Agency employees from the General Schedule pay system to non-appropriated fund status.
AFGE said DeCA employees could face a 25 percent pay cut under the change. The shift could also adversely affect health insurance the retirement benefits for DeCA employees.
“No DeCA employee is living large on her modest paycheck. In fact, many DeCA employees are veterans and military spouses whose families depend on their jobs,” AFGE said in testimony before the House Armed Service Committee’s Military Personnel subcommittee on Jan. 13.
DeCA provides discounted groceries and household goods to the military community through more than 250 commissaries in bases and installations worldwide.