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Letters from Lawmakers overburden Pentagon Staff. (Washington pulse).

Responding to the daily inflow of letters that senators and congressmen send to the Pentagon is an ever-growing workload, said a senior Pentagon official.

Since the early days of democracy in the United States, legislative officials have written letters to federal agencies requesting that additional attention be given to specific issues and programs. The problem is that the amount of time it takes to respond to these letters is draining "finite human resources" at the Defense Department, said the official, during a recent meeting with defense industry lobbyists. "I am amazed by the amount of pen pals I have from Capitol Hill," the official said. "We have a finite level of resources we can commit during any given transaction, and every letter I get from Capitol Hill takes eight to 10 hours away from the subject at hand."

At the Pentagon, the process of answering congressional correspondence is "highly regulated process with high priority," the official said. "Our responses are also highly regulated and we can usually say nothing in those letters anyway. 'The matter is under review,' we say."

Each new letter from a senator or congressman creates an immense amount of internal work at the Pentagon, said the official, so this presents an important political question: "Do you commit your resources to getting to the bottom of the issue on a technical basis, or do you do the congressional correspondence?"
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Author:Book, Elizabeth G.
Publication:National Defense
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2001
Words:232
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