On the first day of a reopened federal government, a top Department of Defense official bemoaned the recent shutdown’s negative effect on the federal agency.
Not only did the lapse result in more than $600 million in lost productivity; DOD Comptroller Robert Hale said that additional damage cannot be assessed as of yet.
During the shutdown, he said, the department “built up interest payments, because we were forced to pay vendors late. We had to cancel training classes, so we had to bring the people home on orders and then send them right back again.”
Even with the budget deal signed by Barack Obama Thursday, Hale complained that things will not immediately fall into place.
“If that’s a vague answer,” he explained, “it’s because things are kind of vague.”
He did elaborate by indicating that the department will not be able to begin any new developments and will be prevented from upgrading certain equipment.
Hale described the situation as “a ‘Groundhog Day’ approach to budgeting,” explaining that it is “not a good way to run a railroad.”
The issue of morale among the department’s staff is also a concern, he said, saying that employees need to be reassured they are valued “through things like pay raises and no more furloughs.”
In conclusion, he confirmed that a Defense Department facing current budgetary cuts “will be a somewhat different, smaller military,” which should align quite nicely with Obama’s vision of America’s future.
Considering the fact that this shutdown was based on the federal government’s inability to live within — or anywhere near — its budget, maybe this wake-up call will serve the DOD and other agencies to better plan for such eventualities in the future. In reality, of course, this supposed crisis will likely be remedied in typical D.C. fashion with even more deficit spending under a newly increased debt limit.
–Western Journalism staff writer
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