The House and Senate Armed Services Committee finished their markup of the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in June, authorizing billions of dollars more than what President Trump requested. The timeline for the NDAA passing both chambers is uncertain due to the NDAA being blocked from a fast-track debate in the Senate last week.
The NDAA is part of the defense budget process and serves to set the defense policy for the upcoming fiscal year and authorize funding levels for existing or new programs. However, the appropriations committee ultimately holds the budget authority over the defense budget.
The House Armed Services Committee authorized $696.5 billion in defense spending with $621.5 billion going toward the base budget and $75 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO).
The Senate’s NDAA calls for even more defense spending than the House, and over $100 billion more than President Trump’s plan, but proposes fewer troops and a smaller pay raise for military personnel. The Senate Armed Services Committee authorized $700 billion for the defense budget with $640 going to base defense and $60 billion allocated for OCO.
Both the House and Senate NDAA’s included reforms that were identified in Concerned Veterans for America FY2018 NDAA recommendations. This series of reform recommendations gives lawmakers a roadmap to aggressively seek savings and ensure the Department of Defense (DOD) is more efficient and effective in spending money.
Acquisition issues have been a major problem with the DOD, potentially costing taxpayers billions of dollars every year. However, in an effort to “improve transparency, accountability, and effectiveness” the Senate Armed Services Committee authorized a $4.3 billion reduction in major Defense Department weapons programs and capped procurement spending on future aircraft carriers at $12 billion.
The House NDAA also prioritized acquisition reform including how the Pentagon buys commercial-off-the-shelf goods. According to a summary by House Armed Services Chairman Thornberry, there is an easy way to reform these types of acquisitions and also increase accountability:
“A solution is obvious to most consumers – allow the government to use online commercial sites like Amazon, Staples, or Grainger just as businesses do… Using these portals has the added benefit of allowing DOD to track and analyze procurement data.”
Chairman Thornberry also took a step in the right direction by authorizing to move at least 25 percent of incurred cost acquisition audits to the private sector to help reduce the audit backlog.
Unfortunately, both the House and Senate failed to authorize many other reforms which would help rid the DOD of waste, duplication and inefficiencies. The House failed to authorize a round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), going so far as to include an amendment that clarified that nothing in their NDAA could be construed as authorizing a BRAC. Moreover, both the House and the Senate did not reform many of the structural problems with the military health care system (TRICARE) or implement any incentives and accountability for the DOD to complete a full audit.
Taming our out of control debt is vital for our national security. With the defense budget being one of the biggest structural driver of the debt, it is crucial that the DOD becomes more fiscally efficient and transparent. Until we implement more reforms, we are putting our national security in risk.
The post NDAA: More Reforms Needed To Eliminate Waste, Strengthen Security appeared first on Concerned Veterans for America.