• Mr. Steven J. Muehler

Steve Muehler's Plan to Reduce Civilians in the Department of Defense

Updated: Apr 23


From 2001 to the election of now President Trump, the total number of civilian employees in the DOD had grown 14 percent. During the same period, the total Active Military was reduced by 5 percent.


As of 2018, 36 percent of the DOD workforce was composed of civilians, totaling about 782,000 people.


The DOD needs to once again “right size” the total DOD workforce. Former Secretaries of Defense Robert Gates and Chuck Hagel both announced plans to reduce the number of civilian employees during their tenure. Secretary Hagel proposed to cut 20 percent of overhead in his office.


Prior to President Trump, the DOD proposed is to reduce the civilian staff by just under 10,000 employees a year. This would be a comparable rate to future military end-strength reductions.


However, given the disproportionate growth in the civilian workforce in the past, the timing of the reductions should have been moved up by one year and an additional reduction of 5,000 full-time equivalents (FTEs) be added in 2020.


The Department of Defense (DOD) can reduce the size of the defense workforce by finding efficiencies in the civilian workforce. Under my Administration, we will look to save $1.2 billion in my Fiscal Year One, and chart a course to save $29.0 billion over a 10 year period.

This reduction will not be as simple as just cutting equal numbers of positions across all offices in the DOD. I will require that each department devise a plan that outlines its strategic priorities, and where to find efficiencies and remove unnecessary duplication. This plan will be required to be completed within my first six months, and my plan will follow within 60-90 days.


Steve Muehler is the Founder & Managing Member of the Private Placement Markets:

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