In regard to the Dec. 10 View from Away (”Pentagon coverup of waste betrays military values”).

In 1974 I was “NCOIC” of a one-person military medical lab. Each quarter I filled a report giving the number of tests performed and the standardized “man hours” required to do them. This was intended to allow planning for staff and budget.

When I retired in 1994, this requirement, despite the internet making it easy to exchange data, had grown to two reports per month, to different offices, plus the original quarterly. All with the same information, just in different formats.

The base was closing in one year, so I wasn’t being replaced. To reduce the burden on the two people left, I suggested to the colonel in charge of Air Force laboratory services in Europe that they be excused from making the reports, as there would be no staff or budget next year. He approved this, and sent the recommendation to the paper pushers in question. The reply he got amounted to, “Argh! You fool! We must have that information so we’ll know what the impact of closing a base is on its workload!”

The officers or GSA managers who are in charge of the offices that receive the reports have as part of their evaluations how many people they supervise, as do their superiors. So, cut reports, cut the number of people needed to file them, and the next time the boss is rated he looks like he was demoted. They, and their bosses, all have benefits from maintaining or increasing staff, and disincentives for cutting them. The willingness to take a loss would need to be at every level. How likely is that?

And every department had reports like that.

Cutting the dead wood will require someone from outside the system with enough knowledge of the system to tell legitimate needs from mushroom farming.

Tom Heyns


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.