USA — Carter Seeks Process to Fund Urgent Needs

WASHINGTON, April 14, 2011 — The Pentagon’s top acqui­si­tions offi­cial yes­ter­day asked Con­gress to help set up a fund­ing sys­tem so the Defense Depart­ment can more quick­ly meet deployed warfight­ers’ most urgent requests.
Ash­ton B. Carter, under­sec­re­tary of defense for acqui­si­tions, tech­nol­o­gy and logis­tics, thanked the House Appro­pri­a­tions Committee’s defense sub­com­mit­tee for recent­ly approv­ing two depart­ment requests to repro­gram appro­pri­at­ed funds so defense offi­cials could quick­ly field requests from deployed units.

“I want you to know that I have been work­ing hard to ensure that funds approved for trans­fer are being put to work imme­di­ate­ly to get urgent­ly need­ed equip­ment to the field,” Carter said in pre­pared tes­ti­mo­ny. “Upon your approval of the last repro­gram­ming request, my team went to work to ener­gize the entire acqui­si­tion sys­tem from con­tract­ing to train­ing to field­ing, get­ting the funds released prompt­ly, [and] mak­ing these pro­grams the high­est pri­or­i­ty.”

Carter said he meets almost dai­ly with his team that coor­di­nates urgent oper­a­tional needs and ensures that every defense orga­ni­za­tion under­stands the urgency and the author­i­ties pro­vid­ed to exe­cute the response.

“As in any mil­i­tary oper­a­tion, such uni­ty of effort is a pre­req­ui­site for achiev­ing the mis­sion – in this case, the mis­sion of rapid field­ing,” he said.

The process of defense offi­cials ask­ing Con­gress to repro­gram funds ear­marked for oth­er areas to pay for urgent oper­a­tional needs is one of the department’s pri­ma­ry means of meet­ing urgent warfight­er requests, Carter said. “But it is not ide­al,” he added.

“We have large­ly suc­ceed­ed in iden­ti­fy­ing and mov­ing bil­lions [of dol­lars] with­in acqui­si­tion and oth­er accounts to respond to [urgent warfight­er needs],” he said, “but sig­nif­i­cant delay can occur in iden­ti­fy­ing a source of funds.”

The tight fis­cal cli­mate and oper­at­ing under con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tions have made it increas­ing­ly dif­fi­cult to find extra mon­ey, even for urgent needs, the under­sec­re­tary said.

“The depart­ment would like to work with you to iden­ti­fy bet­ter mech­a­nisms,” he told the pan­el, not­ing that the fis­cal 2012 bud­get request – as it has in pre­vi­ous years – includ­ed cre­ation of a joint urgent oper­a­tional needs response fund. The bud­get request includ­ed $200 mil­lion to start the fund, which would be equal­ly divid­ed between the department’s base and over­seas con­tin­gency oper­a­tions bud­gets, he said.

“Although this amount is small rel­a­tive to what we have rou­tine­ly expend­ed respond­ing to [urgent needs], the val­ue of the fund is that exe­cu­tion can begin before the full repro­gram­ming process is com­plete,” he said. “This can save months, and thus save lives and ensure mis­sion suc­cess.”

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

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