Pentagon Officials Work With OMB on Budget Guidance

WASHINGTON, Aug. 19, 2011 — Defense Depart­ment offi­cials are work­ing with the Office of Man­age­ment and Bud­get on guid­ance issued yes­ter­day that all agen­cies’ fis­cal 2013 bud­get requests be at least 5 per­cent less than cur­rent appro­pri­a­tions.
Pen­ta­gon Press Sec­re­tary George Lit­tle told reporters today that Defense offi­cials are work­ing with OMB to deter­mine what that will mean for the DOD bud­get.
“I don’t think this is nec­es­sar­i­ly a sea-change event,” he said, adding that Pen­ta­gon offi­cials for months have been work­ing toward a goal of cut­ting $400 bil­lion from the bud­get over the next 10 years.
The bud­get for fis­cal 2011, which ends Sept. 30, pro­vides $528.9 bil­lion for the base bud­get and $159 bil­lion for over­seas con­tin­gency oper­a­tions.
“As always, we will work with OMB,” Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta said dur­ing a broad­er inter­view with Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice and oth­er mil­i­tary media rep­re­sen­ta­tives today. “They pro­vide all kinds of guid­ance as we dis­cuss how we approach these issues.”
Bud­get offi­cials are try­ing to antic­i­pate some of the chal­lenges the gov­ern­ment will face in the months ahead. Panet­ta, who was the OMB direc­tor for Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, said his focus remains on the $400 bil­lion – a tar­get in line with $350 bil­lion Con­gress iden­ti­fied in leg­is­la­tion to raise the debt ceil­ing and reduce the deficit that Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma signed Aug. 2.
Under the new law, a bipar­ti­san con­gres­sion­al com­mit­tee will work to iden­ti­fy $1.5 tril­lion in fed­er­al bud­get sav­ings and make a rec­om­men­da­tion to Con­gress by Nov. 23. If Con­gress fails to act on the committee’s rec­om­men­da­tion by Dec. 23, an across-gov­ern­ment spend­ing cut of $1.2 tril­lion over 10 years will go into effect in a process known as “seques­tra­tion.” Half of those cuts would come from nation­al secu­ri­ty spend­ing, includ­ing the depart­ments of Defense, Home­land Secu­ri­ty and oth­ers.
Panet­ta said he is focused on the $400 bil­lion tar­get as a goal that can be met with­out endan­ger­ing defense. “As to oth­er sce­nar­ios that OMB may direct, I frankly have said that if we have to go to a sequester sce­nario where we have to dou­ble defense cuts here, that it will be dis­as­trous,” he said.
Mean­while, OMB typ­i­cal­ly advis­es agen­cies of their top-line bud­get requests in Novem­ber. The guid­ance OMB released yes­ter­day advis­es agen­cies to pre­pare for over­all bud­get requests that are 5 per­cent below their cur­rent appro­pri­a­tions, while also iden­ti­fy­ing dis­cre­tionary spend­ing reduc­tions that are at least 10 per­cent below their cur­rent lev­els. The memo qual­i­fies that the guid­ance should be fol­lowed “unless your agency has been giv­en explic­it direc­tion oth­er­wise by OMB.”
The memo from OMB Direc­tor Jack Lew fur­ther advis­es agen­cies to “dou­ble down” on pro­grams that “pro­vide the best oppor­tu­ni­ty to enhance eco­nom­ic growth,” cut or elim­i­nate low-pri­or­i­ty and inef­fec­tive ones, and con­sol­i­date duplica­tive ones. 

By fol­low­ing the guid­ance, Lew said, “you will pro­vide the pres­i­dent with the infor­ma­tion to make the tough choic­es nec­es­sary to meet the hard spend­ing tar­gets in place and the needs of the nation.” 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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