A generation ago, during the Vietnam War, President Nixon abolished the draft. That did more to end the protests than anything he ever did. It was a smart political move.
Yet the Selective Service organization rumbles on. This is a basic rule in Washington: no bureaucracy is allowed to die.
The Government Accountability Office has concluded that the draft could not be reinstated for at least nine months under present staffing. The GAO has prepared a report, which it has sent to the heads of the House and Senate Armed Services Committee.
The government has not examined its draft policies and the Selective Service System since 1994.
The agency is still supposed to keep active records of all American males who are eligible for service.
The military insiststhat the all-volunteer armed forces are mandatory, that the draft would no longer work in today’s high-tech world. There has been no draft since 973. But that does not mean that the Selective Service System has been shut down.
The Selective Service System has cut personnel steadily since 1997. With a current staff budget for 130 full-time civilian employees and 175 part-time reserve forces officers, the agency would not be able to deliver the first draft inductees to Defense until 285 days after mobilization, according to GAO.
Selective Service is asking for $24.4 million for fiscal 2013.
In interviewing Selective Service System officials about potential alternatives to their agency, GAO found difficulties in replicating a database of eligible service members. Though other government agencies — including the Social Security Administration, Department of Motor Vehicles and Census Bureau — maintain similar databases of U.S. citizens, each has inherent flaws. A database of all Social Security participants, for example, would neglect immigrants with no Social Security number.
We o not need this organization. But no one in authority comes out and says, “Shut it down.” That would be considered far too radical.
So, the spending never goes down.