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06 December 2016


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I think you're going to see a streamlining of civil service rules to deal with obstinate GS 14s and 15s who are buried in the agency like ticks.

My understanding is that the SES serve at the whim of the President, but I might be wrong.


Actually, if you read the powerpoint produced by McKinsey it is full of consultant-speak and shows very little understanding of how to change things in a large bureaucracy, and especially one in the public sector operating under Congressional oversight and politics. The $125B number is based on comparisons to (theoretical) performance in the private sector. The recommendations alone are worth a laugh or two.

This is not to say there aren't opportunities to control costs in the DoD, but this report is laughable.

Mark Gaughan

That's $25 billion per year, about 4% of the defense budget.


I like my eggs over easy so I can moosh 'em into my hash browns. What time does the mess hall open? I know you have heard this before--"Better beans make better soldiers".



All this time I thought that I was abnormal in missing SOS.

Had a coonass Cajun as a mess sergeant in the leg unit I ETS'ed from. The guy made the best gravy in the history of the planet. He did the whole thing out of the #10 cans of dried stuff and meat of uncertain origin.

Damn...I'm salivating like Pavlov's damn dogs.



This goes back to Al Gore’s reinventing government. The Clinton Administration got rid of the internal government contract controls and brought in private-sector efficiency. That is making money and jumping aboard the revolving door; not national defense. Today the WP also reported that the Obama Administration supports moving the Lockheed Martin’s F-16 production line, lock stock and barrel, from Fort Worth, TX to India.



Good points, even if gleaned from a ppt. 4% waste sounds a little low for a gov agency to me too.
"... made better use of information technology.”
therefore, let's outsource more $ to the IT-flavored bandits within & without the beltway - they've done such a fine job to date. the impact of gov outsourcing over the past 20 years has resulted in more than poorly scrambled eggs.

Col, allow me to point out two significant distinctions about gov contract & private sector business and the underlying reasons that they are (imo) distinct... related to points you made in a previous post about negotiating deals.
a) gov biz is fundamentally other-directed in nature, fulfilled by people who have never really been in the private sector (civil servants, contractors, folk who went form uniformed services to gov biz & especially since the gov world & private worlds are de-coupled in our times... borg-like).
b) the accounting systems are distinct to the point that there is no connection - FAR is a world of its own.

combining these 2 core distinctions makes for worlds that do not overlap, increasingly as time has passed along with generations of workers. anyway, that's been my experience being in both worlds since the late '70s.


We ate pretty well aboard ship in the Navy. Of course we also paid for our food via mess dues.

Allen Thomson

> That's $25 billion per year, about 4% of the defense budget.

It's also 30% more than the total NASA budget.

Richard Armstrong

SOS or Chipped Beef from the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence (JCCoE) Quartermaster School


Serves 100


WATER,WARM 8-1/3 lbs


WATER,WARM 31-1/3 lbs





Separate dried beef slices, cut into 1-inch slices.

Place beef in 190 F. water. Soak 5 minutes. Drain thoroughly.

Reconstitute milk. Heat to just below boiling. DO NOT BOIL.

Combine butter or margarine with flour and pepper; add to milk, stirring constantly. Cook 5 minutes until thickened.
Add beef to sauce; blend well.

Richard Armstrong

Mark Gaughan has exposed the buried lede. The size of the defense budget is, shall we say, indefensible.



There's no reason all the work has to be done in and around D.C. Trump should move federal agencies to low cost states - like Mississippi, West Virginia or even Iowa. It will do wonders to shrink the federal payroll.



"mess dues" I presume you mean commissioned officers. pl

The Twisted Genius

Swami and ked,

I will not pretend to understand the intricacies of reforming a bureaucracy, or today's preferred term enterprise, as large as the DOD. I would prefer a bottom up approach where select military installations and units are allowed to be become much more self-sufficient. The first step would be to eliminate the whole warrior bullshit in favor of taking pride in being a soldier (admitted Army bias here). For example, mess teams will replace dining facilities. KP duty will return. The post and ranges would be maintained and guarded by soldiers. Guard mount will be stood by all. Most construction would be done by Army engineering units and troop labor.

Back in the hollow Army days of the 70s, the 25th Infantry Division took care of Schofield Barracks, Wheeler Air Field and all the field ranges internally. We spent a quarter of our time doing this and it was an integral part of being a soldier. As another example of reducing bureaucracy, I offer another experience from personal history. When I took over a HUMINT detachment in Germany, I immediately stopped sending all recurring reports to the battalion HQ. I did not start sending a report again until I was asked twice to do so. In this way I eliminated three quarters of the monthly recurring reports. We still won detachment of the month on a regular basis. Top down support for these kinds of reforms is needed along with real brass ball, integrity driven leadership at all levels.

The Twisted Genius


But that would mean all the federal agency high muckety-mucks wouldn't be able to schmooze with all the Congressional muckety-mucks to feather their nests and expand their empires.



I had a mess hall in Panama and then another at Camp Drum for a summer while training reserve component troops. The mess hall guys were from my battalion 2/2 Infantry. The food was outstanding. The mess sergeant at Drum was a Black soldier from the South. He would see me in the morning and sing out "Come on in Lootenant. Aiggs to ordah... I got some fresh made biscuits and Georgia ice cream (grits)." It was sublime. pl

Christopher Fay

I was thinking for a while that the Pentagon should be moved to West Virginia, and any visitors have to take the trip by train. Also Detroit needs a federal bureaucracy there, spread the government spending.


True. Whenever we Corpsmen didn't like what was being served on the mess deck our first thought was 'which one of the stewards owes us a favor?' We hit the jackpot in Naples harbor when we ended with an entire box of frozen lobster tails.

The Twisted Genius


Our mess sergeant in C/1/35 was a tiny, cross-eyed Italian who would have been at home behind the butcher counter in a small grocery store in New York's Little Italy. Like your coonass Cajun, Sal was magician in the mess tent.


I am completely in favor of far less outsourcing & more internal, bottom-up self-sufficiency in the services, in DOD & gov in general, broad terms (all levels). We ought stop gov operations being such a massive (scale & margins) profit center for private enterprise.
I'd hope for doing so in connection with public service being required of all citizens... on some randomized selection basis. Maybe that would engender a shared national experience and support basic capability / competence ("education?!") among our citizenry. And maybe I'm dreaming.

The Twisted Genius


My introduction to grits was at Benning. I was in jump school as a cadet in July 1973 after signing up for ROTC late that Spring. The ROTC sergeant major was a friend of the Airborne School sergeant major and they made a deal to get me in without the regular paperwork. Anyways, back to the grits. I loaded up a big bowl of what I thought was cream of wheat. I slapped on some butter, poured on the sugar and took a big spoonful. "Jesus! What's this stuff?" The black hats patrolling the mess hall said take all you want, but eat all you take, so I developed a love for grits by the time I finished that bowl.


This report is only the start. The real objective for McKinsey is to be given a fat, long-term contract to manage the changes recommended in their report. This is McKinsey standard operating procedure.

re Powerpoint- one of the rarely stated benefits of retirement is that Powerpoint largely ceases to be a feature of your life.

scott s.

Well, since the Division has been back from Iraq/Afghan, at least the MPs are back on the gates here.



That would be .... Deplorable.

scott s.

Having lived through some of these "business process improvement" projects, I can say good luck. I have yet to see a management that could pull one of these off. It may exist, just have never seen it. I remember Al Gore's "re-inventing government". What we got out of that, was a management/Fed union committee that had to discuss the smallest change in working conditions. For example, arguing over where the employee designated smoking area would be when DoD ruled that the cafeteria was to be "smoke free". This was considered "employee empowerment".

As far as "Mad Dog" I have greatest respect for the war-fighter (hell, I was one for my first 10 years) but what works for leadership in battle doesn't always translate well to the bureaucracy. The PP report seems to get its savings through attrition / reduction in head count and re-classifying positions to lower levels (though with pay-banding I don't know that that's as effective as in the past). Part of the "re-inventing government" was to mandate a 15:1 supervisory ratio. How that was achieved was to change most GM-13s to GS-13s styled "team leads" and not supervisors (which actually suited them fine, as they were in engineering series and didn't really like having to do time cards and performance evals).

In the PP report appendix, it mentions "cultural issues" as a reason for failure. I would say, nothing gets culture push-back faster than for DoD to tell the services how to do things. Actually, I think if you ask the typical civ/mil person working in the trenches, they would probably say get rid of DoD if you want to increase productivity.

Another area was the OMB A-79 process to determine what should be "contracted-out". So you contract it out, and one result is you no longer have the institutional knowledge about the subject area and are dependent on the incumbent contractor, who also has the inside track when re-competed as he knows what the real requirement is.

Now maybe for mowing the lawn that isn't a big deal. But I look at something like shipbuilding. We used to build a certain percentage of ships in the government yards so you had people who really knew the business first-hand. This was from the lowest marine machinist through the group supe to the Commander. Now we have to rely on the Supervisor of Shipbuilding offices, who are more contract administrators than anything else. And it's even worse outside shipbuilding as most administration has gone to DoD DCMA. Same thing with logistics. Where we used to have Navy item managers at SPCC Mechanicsburg, now most all line items have been pushed to DoD DLA.

But I guess having DoD does give many officers a chance to get that "purple-suit" job on their CVs as mandated by Goldwater-Nichols.

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