Almost two-thirds of the workforce at the Business Transformation Agency, a Pentagon shop slated for the chopping block, is made up of contract employees, according to figures obtained by Federal Times under the Freedom of Information Act.
Of 1,124 workers, 725 are contractors, 375 are civilian and 24 are military personnel, the figures show. In announcing his decision to close BTA within the next year, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said last month that the agency employed “approximately 360 people.” Gates was apparently referring only to government civilian employees.
Federal Times filed the FOIA request after repeated attempts to obtain the workforce information from Gates’ office went unanswered. So far, no response from a Pentagon spokeswoman this afternoon on the contractor ratio.
Although BTA was created several years ago to modernize DoD’s business practices, Gates said at the Aug. 9 news conference that its focus had shifted more “to day-to-day oversight of individual acquisition programs, a function that can be performed by a number of other organizations.”
Who’s worried about the impact of Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ proposed Pentagon belt-tightening?
Not, apparently, CACI International, Inc., the Arlington Va.,-based defense contractor that has a stake in some of the programs and offices to be axed.
In a recent statement on CACI’s 4th quarter and full fiscal year 2010 results, President and CEO Paul Cofoni said the company expects only “negligible impact” from Gates’ decision to eliminate Joint Forces Command, the Office for Network and Information Integration and the J-6. CACI has also been informed, he added, “that the work we do for the Business Transformation Agency will continue following its transition to other organizations.”
Gates announced the cuts Aug 9 as part of an economy drive to steer more money to force structure and modernization. CACI’s work is oriented toward professional services and information technology; in 2008, it was one of six companies to share in a BTA contract for support “in the area of thought leadership and change management” worth up to $260 million over five years.
CACI’s relatively optimistic outlook raises the question, however, of exactly how much the Defense Department stands to save from Gates’ proposals. As far as we at Fedline know, the Pentagon has yet to supply a dollar figure. A Defense Department spokeswoman did not reply to e-mail and voicemail messages Friday.
The Defense Department’s plans to close Joint Forces Command as well as other cost-cutting moves will get a look-see from the Senate Armed Services Committee, according to a Monday letter from the panel’s chairman, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., to Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va.
In the letter, which Webb’s office released Tuesday, Levin said he would seek to schedule a hearing after Congress reconvenes in September. While Levin said he shares Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ goals of reducing ‘”duplication, overhead and excess in the defense enterprise,’” his “far-reaching initiatives . . . deserve close scrutiny by our committee.”
Gates announced the JFCOM decision Aug. 9 as part of an efficiency drive aimed at freeing up more than $100 billion over the next five years that could instead be spent on weapons buys and other purposes. Besides shuttering JFCOM, based in Norfolk, Va., Gates wants to close the Business Transformation Agency and reduce spending on service support contractors by 10 percent annually for the next three years.
Unsurprisingly, however, members of the Virginia congressional delegation have rushed to the defense of JFCOM, a major employer in the Norfolk area. In an Aug. 13 letter to Gates, Webb and five other lawmakers questioned his legal authority to dismantle the command and said the decision was apparently based on a Defense Business Board recommendation that “reflects superficial research and a lack of analytical rigor.”
A House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee also plans to hold a hearing, possibly in late September, according to Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va.