Bill would require DoD to reduce civilian workforce

Legislation introduced by Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) on Friday would require the Department of Defense to reduce its civilian workforce and use the cost savings to fund defense priorities.

The Rebalance for an Effective Defense Uniform and Civilian Employees Act would aim to reduce the DoD’s civilian workforce by 15 percent by fiscal year 2020, as recommended by the Defense Business Board.

“The growth of the civilian workforce within the DoD continues to create a significant budgetary burden but, more importantly, if left unchecked it will negatively impact our men and women in uniform,” Calvert said. “(Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s) recently-announced military reduction plan trims the wrong side of the DoD. It would negatively impact our troops, compromise our national security, while failing to make the tough but necessary decisions needed to trim the civilian workforce at the DoD.”

The REDUCE Act would require the DoD’s civilian workforce to remain at or below the 15 percent staff reduction level for fiscal years 2021 to 2025. It would also give the defense secretary authority to use voluntary separation incentive payments and voluntary early retirement payments to meet reduction benchmarks.

Calvert said savings that result from the REDUCE Act should be used to fund DoD service priorities such as modernization of weapons systems, readiness, resetting the force and support of active servicemembers.

“Many of our civilians at the Pentagon and around the world do a fine job, but their growth is unsustainable,” Calvert said. “Our current and retired military leaders have widely acknowledged the need to establish a more efficient defense workforce in order to preserve our national security posture in the future. However, actions speak louder than words, and I believe Congress will ultimately have to force DoD’s hand to implement these necessary changes.”

Under the measure, the defense secretary would have the authority to place greater weight on job performance than tenure. The defense secretary would also required to report to Congress on the progress and impact of the measure.

Reps. Kay Granger (R-Texas) and Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) are among the measure’s original cosponsors.