October 13, 2011

Looking to Trim the Defense Budget? Start with the QDR.

Yesterday's announcement that the Department of Defense will form a "Strategic Choices Group" to identify priorities and risks ahead of $450 billion in potential cuts to the budget is the latest example of the worthlessness of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). A strategic document would necessarily identify risks and priorities, but since the QDR does neither, the Department of Defense has to establish an entirely new working group to do just that.

Here's a question to which I do not know the answer: how many tax dollars do the Department of Defense and its subordinate departments spend on the QDR? (Searching through the 2006 and 2010 QDRs, I could not find a figure.) Because if you're looking to trim costs, you can probably start there.*

*Yes, I know the QDR is mandated by the Congress. But if the end result does not yield a document the department can use to set spending priorities, perhaps the services can spend less time on it.

(For more on the QDR and other poor "strategy" documents, read Gulliver on Ink Spots.)