Fourth Estate Reform Effort Anticipated with Esper’s SecDef Confirmation

Fourth Estate Reform Effort Anticipated with Esper’s SecDef Confirmation

Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark Esper, who was confirmed as the permanent defense chief on Tuesday, has plans to reform DOD’s Fourth Estate comprised of 27 agencies under Pentagon purview but are not formally attached to any of the military services, C4ISRNET reported.

The agencies, including DOD’s Office of Economic Adjustment, employ 200,000 civilian personnel and nearly 600,000 contractors throughout the massive defense agency.

The reform push, if pursued by Esper, would renew discussion of inefficiencies within the agencies, according to the C4ISRNET report.

In Esper’s advance policy responses for his Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing last week he proposed one approach to achieve $46 billion in DOD savings would be to review Fourth Estate management.

The Pentagon has been charged by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to find $46 billion in savings between FY 2019 and FY 2023.

“If confirmed, I will work with the Deputy Secretary and the Chief Management Officer to review charters, budgets, infrastructures, resource needs and utilization, and key performance outputs of the Fourth Estate,” Esper wrote on how he would improve the agencies.

Esper also referred to reviewing Fourth Estate agencies at least three other times in written responses and pledged to reform the group in his opening statement.

“We will reform the Department, beginning with the Fourth Estate,” Esper said during his confirmation hearing.

Fourth Estate agencies drew attention during the fiscal 2018 annual defense authorization bill markups, as On Base previously reported. The agencies also received scrutiny last fall when the Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified inefficiencies in 19 agencies and eight field activities within the group.

A September 2018 report from the Government Accountability Office estimated that 27 agencies included in the Fourth Estate have an annual budget of at least $106 billion.

DOD photo by Air Force Master Sgt. Ken Hammond

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