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This is the kind of news that makes the public distrust government (in this case rightly, but just as frequently that distrust is misplaced). It’s also the kind of news item that I like because there’s context AND there’s a copy of the internal study that I can archive, catalog and give access to via our library catalog.
The Pentagon has buried an internal study that exposed $125 billion in administrative waste in its business operations amid fears Congress would use the findings as an excuse to slash the defense budget, according to interviews and confidential memos obtained by The Washington Post.
Pentagon leaders had requested the study to help make their enormous back-office bureaucracy more efficient and reinvest any savings in combat power. But after the project documented far more wasteful spending than expected, senior defense officials moved swiftly to kill it by discrediting and suppressing the results.
The report, issued in January 2015, identified “a clear path” for the Defense Department to save $125 billion over five years. The plan would not have required layoffs of civil servants or reductions in military personnel. Instead, it would have streamlined the bureaucracy through attrition and early retirements, curtailed high-priced contractors and made better use of information technology.
The study was produced last year by the Defense Business Board, a federal advisory panel of corporate executives, and consultants from McKinsey and Company. Based on reams of personnel and cost data, their report revealed for the first time that the Pentagon was spending almost a quarter of its $580 billion budget on overhead and core business operations such as accounting, human resources, logistics and property management.
Yesterday, my colleague Kris Kasianovitz and I were lucky enough to be invited to give a presentation to my library’s advisory council about our work with govt information at Stanford libraries (Kris unfortunately had to be in LA for a family event, but we prepared together and made a fun little video of her “in the field” :-)).
Our agenda was straightforward: 1) Describe the universe of govt information in which Kris and I work (including local, state, federal, and international); 2) Talk about 3 trends in govt information and libraries over the last 10-15 years that are worrisome to us; and 3) Describe how Stanford is going against the grain, bucking the trends as it were in order to try and move the documents community forward to a better future!
Our advisory Council is made up of librarians, technologists, academics etc from around the world — like Lynne Brindley, who last year stepped down as the head of the British Library, Karin Wittenborg, from UVA, Bruno Racine from the French National Library, Elisabeth Niggemann from the German National Library, Chuck Henry from CLIR, David Rumsey, Abby Smith-Rumsey, Paul Saffo, Victor Guerra, director of IT from the Mexican Ministry for health, Roger Summitt, founder of Dialog and more. So to get a chance to let these folks know more about what’s happening with libraries and govt information was a rare honor and an important venue for getting govt information issues in front of the global movers and shakers in the library world and beyond.
NOTE: If you want to get to my notes rather than just looking at pretty pictures, click the gear to open the speaker notes.