Rep. Calvert Reintroduces the REDUCE Act to Eliminate Bureaucratic Waste in the Defense Department

February 9, 2021
Press Release
Bill could save an estimated $125 billion

Today, Congressman Ken Calvert (CA-42) announced he has reintroduced legislation aimed at creating a more efficient civilian workforce at the Department of Defense (DOD). The Rebalance for an Effective Defense Uniform and Civilian Employees (REDUCE) Act, H.R. 916, would require the DOD to make civilian workforce reductions in a systematic manner without compromising our ability to maintain a strong national defense over the long term.

“Our fiscal and national security challenges are intertwined, increasing every day and require immediate action by Congress,” said Rep. Calvert. “Our military spending is not the root cause of our national debt, and we should never compromise on the resources we provide our warfighters to defend us. However, we must address the unsustainable growth within the Defense Department bureaucracy which, if left unaddressed, will ultimately compromise our military training, readiness, and superiority. The REDUCE Act forces the Defense Department to right-size its civilian employee-to-servicemember ratio imbalance through attrition and thereby saving an estimated $125 billion.”

The Growth in the Civilian Workforce within the DOD:

A report produced by the Defense Business Board found that modest cuts to the back end bureaucracy at the Defense Department could save $125 billion over five years. Significant savings could be achieved through attrition and early retirements. According to an investigative report by the Washington Post, senior leadership at the Defense Department tried to keep the Defense Business Board’s report from public view.

The requirements of the REDUCE Act will accomplish the following:

  • Reduce our Defense civilian workforce by 15% by FY 2025.  This percentage was recommended by the Defense Business Board, a trusted, authoritative, and independent source of expertise.
  • The Department of Defense civilian workforce would remain at or below this established cap of a 15% reduction for Fiscal Years 2025 through 2029.
  • The Department of Defense civilian Senior Executive Service career appointee workforce will be reduced to 1,000 by 2025 and remain at or below 1,000 employees for Fiscal Years 2025 through 2029.
  • Provide the Secretary of Defense the authority to use voluntary separation incentive payments and voluntary early retirement payments in order to achieve the required reductions in personnel. 
  • Provide the Secretary of Defense the authority to assign greater weight to job performance versus tenure in a Reduction in Force then the Secretary currently has.
  • Require a two-fold reporting requirement for this Act: (1) a report from the Secretary of Defense covering the progress and impact of the requirements of this Act in the annual budget request for Fiscal Years 2021 through 2029. The Secretary of Defense may also report to Congress on the impact of the provisions at any time throughout the year (such as when submitting the report on achievement of performance goals as required by Sec. 116 of title 31 of the United States Code on “Agency performance rating.”), (2) a GAO study, no later than three years after enactment of this Act, that shall examine the progress and impact of the requirements of this Act. 

In the development of the REDUCE Act, Rep. Calvert and his office consulted with respected defense officials and experts, including: Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon R. England, Former Under Secretary of Defense Dr. Dov Zakheim, Former Secretary of the Navy John Lehman, and Major General (Ret.) Arnold Punaro (Member of the Defense Business Board).