Department of Defense Could Save Billions With This Hidden Program

The secretary of defense and the joint chiefs of staff continue to cry wolf. The easy and most terrifying spending cuts — personnel, training, and maintenance — will have to be reduced to levels that put the ability to defend the nation at risk unless Congress acts to reverse sequestration.

What about the savings generated by the Defense Health Agency (DHA)?

Buried on page 184 of the Fiscal Year 2013 Defense Authorization Act is Section 731, directing the Department of Defense (DoD) to consolidate military health care under one agency.

Never heard of this directive? I’m not surprised. I hadn’t either until I received an update from the Military Officers Association of America.

No later than the end of fiscal year 2015, the DHA will have full control of ten elements of military health care: medical logistics; facility planning; health information technology; TRICARE; pharmacy; acquisition; public health research; development; education and training; and budget and resource management.

So far, DoD has developed plans and projections for the first four. Without addressing the other six, savings over six years are projected to be between $1.46 billion and $2.9 billion. This is approximately 5% of the 2012 defense health program operation and maintenance estimate of $41.6 billion.

Using available documents, it’s difficult to estimate the total fiscal impact of the DHA. The final report showing the projected savings for all ten elements is scheduled to be released in September.

Our military leaders, both in uniform and not, need to stop relying on politics of fear and start looking for areas where long-term savings can be achieved. The DHA is a strong example of this.