WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — The Pentagon has buried an internal study that exposed $125 billion in administrative waste in its business operations amid fears Congress would use the findings as an excuse to slash the defense budget, according to interviews and confidential memos obtained by The Washington Post.

Pentagon leaders had originally requested the study to help make their back-office bureaucracy more efficient and reinvest any savings in combat power. However, after the project documented much more wasted spending than had been anticipated, senior defense officials quickly began discrediting the study’s findings and suppressing the results.

The report, issued in January 2015, identified “a clear path” for the Defense Department to save $125 billion over five years. If implemented, no layoffs of civil servants or reductions in military personnel would occur. In fact, it would have streamlined the bureaucracy through attrition and early retirements, curtailed high-priced contractors and made better use of information technology.

It was produced last year by the Defense Business Board, a federal advisory panel made up of corporate executives and consultants from McKinsey and Company. According to the report from the Post, data from the study revealed for the first time that the Pentagon was spending almost a quarter of its $580 billion budget on overhead and core business operations such as accounting, human resources, logistics and property management.

Data from the study also showed the Defense Department was paying an astronomical 1,014,000 contractors, civilians and uniformed personnel to fill back-office jobs far from the front lines. That workforce supports 1.3 million troops on active duty, the fewest since 1940.

The most attractive element of the study for the military was likely the relocation of $125 billion to spend on troops and weapons. Among other options, the savings could have paid a large portion of the bill to rebuild the nation’s aging nuclear arsenal, or the operating expenses for 50 Army brigades.

After the plan was killed, the Pentagon imposed secrecy restrictions on the data making up the study, which ensured no one could replicate the findings. A 77-page summary report that had been made public was removed from a Pentagon website.

Information from The Washington Post contributed to this report,