House committee approves FY2016 Defense Authorization bill, including military compensation and defense acquisition reforms
The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) approved the FY2016 Defense Authorization bill on a vote of 60-2. The HASC bill authorizes $515 billion for the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Energy (DoE) nuclear weapons program. The authorized amount for the base DoD budget would be $495.6 billion.
The bill also authorizes $89 billion for FY2016 Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding. The president requested $50.9 billion for OCO. The additional $38.3 billion in the HASC bill is for O&M requirements requested in the base bill.
Including base funding in the OCO account, which is considered emergency and not counted against the budget caps, allows the HASC to authorize $585 billion ($496 billion in base funds and $89 billion in OCO) for DoD in FY2016. This is essentially the same as the president’s request for total DoD funding ($434 billion in base funding and $51 billion in OCO). This approach keeps the HASC bill within the Budget Control Act (BCA) discretionary caps while providing additional funding for DoD. The president’s base budget request assumes an increase in the BCA discretionary caps to avoid sequestration.
HASC chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry highlighted the major components of the bill as: major steps to reform military compensation; first elements of long-term acquisition reform; and redistribution of resources to balance tooth to tail. “At a time of unprecedented threats, uncertainty, and technological change, the NDAA [National Defense Authorization Act] strives to ensure that our forces are agile, efficient, ready, and lethal,” Thornberry said.
The bill includes a recommendation from the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission that called for a “blended” military retirement system. Under the bill, new service members would be automatically enrolled in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) with a matching contribution from DoD starting in FY2018. The servicemember’s contribution (3 percent initially) would be matched by a 1 percent contribution by DoD (that could go up to 5 percent). This change would provide retirement benefits to 83 percent of servicemembers currently not eligible, according to the committee. The provision would also mean that retirees after 20 years of service who are enrolled in the new system would have their annuity adjusted to reflect TSP payments. Current servicemembers would have the option to remain in the old system or choose the new TSP option.
The HASC bill also includes the first components of a plan to reform defense acquisition. The bill calls for streamlining the acquisition process by moving some decisions forward to the initial stages of the process. The number of legal certifications would be reduced and acquisition program managers would be given greater flexibility to address programmatic risk under the bill. The HASC would empower acquisition officials by removing barriers so that officers can pursue acquisition as a profession, provide a “Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Fund,” and include expedited hiring authority for hiring and training the acquisition workforce. Chairman Thornberry introduced the plan “Agile Acquisition to Retain Technological Edge” last month.
The HASC would provide military personnel with a 2.3 percent pay raise by not explicitly setting a pay raise amount in the bill. This non-action, would allow the current pay raise calculation procedures to go into effect, unless the president recommends an alternative. The president requested a 1.3 percent military pay raise for FY2016.
The bill rejects administration proposals to increase commissary prices to pay for operating costs, raise TRICARE fees, and lower the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). The bill also denies the administration’s proposal to retire the A-10 attack jet fleet and rejects a proposal to initiate another Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round.
The HASC bill also adds funding for 12 more F/A 18-F Hornet aircraft for the Navy (+$1.2 billion) and 6 more F-35B aircraft for the Marine Corps (+$1 billion), which were identified as unfunded priorities. The bill also as provides $683 million to keep the A-10s flying, $400 million to restore proposed BAH cuts, and $322 million to restore proposed commissary cuts. Major funding reductions in the bill were made for unobligated balances (-$2.6 billion), fuel prices (-$1.6 billion) and the foreign currency account due to a strong dollar (-$1.4 billion).
The full House is expected to take up the FY2016 Defense Authorization bill before the Memorial Day recess.
Yesterday, President Obama announced he will nominate Vice Admiral Peter V. Neffenger to be the Assistant Secretary for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Currently, Melvin Carraway, former Deputy Administrator, is serving as acting Administrator.
President Obama called Neffenger “a recognized leader in the face of our nation’s important challenges” and said his talents and experience “will be valuable to this Administration’s efforts to strengthen transportation security.”
TSA is responsible for security operations at over 450 U.S. airports, includes the Federal Marshal Service, and has shared responsibility for highways, railroads, ports, mass transit systems, and pipelines.
If he is confirmed by the Senate, Neffenger would remain in the Department of Homeland Security as both the TSA and the Coast Guard are components of the department.
Jeh Johnson, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, called Neffenger one of the brightest and most capable flag officers in the U.S. military” he has ever met. Johnson recalled that James Loy, TSA’s second Administrator, had been Commandant of the Coast Guard.
Vice Admiral Neffenger, who has over 30 years of service in the Coast Guard, has been Coast Guard Vice Chairman since May 2014. Prior to that Neffenger served as Deputy Commandant of Operations, Director of Strategic Management and Doctrine, and Commander of the Ninth Coast Guard District. He was the Deputy National Incident Commander for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the Sector Commander and Federal Maritime Security Coordinator for the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
Congratulations to the newest Chapter Leadership Award Winners! This award is given to recognize individuals for outstanding continuous leadership, accomplishments and support of the society at the chapter level.
This year's winners are:
- LTC Christopher Dixon, Tampa Bay
- Scott McCue, Korea
- Ken Suazo, San Diego
- Brenda Walker, Red River
Full write-ups of their leadership, dedication and commitment may be found here.
CALIBRE – Distinguished Winner
Since its inception, CALIBRE has been a dedicated and active corporate member of the American Society of Military Comptrollers (ASMC) at both the local chapter and national level. Employees attend ASMC events year-round for professional development purposes in the area of military comptrollership. Key leadership from CALIBRE attended every corporate breakfast and dinner program sponsored by the national office. CALIBRE encourages and promotes individual professional development for all of its employees through education, specialized training, certification, and professional memberships. Continuing education is very important to CALIBRE and achieving an advanced degree or professional certification is thoroughly supported and encouraged. 95% of CALIBREs Subject Matter Experts in Financial Management are Certified Defense Financial Managers (CDFM). In 2014, they were selected as one of the most promising data analytics consulting companies by CIOReview magazine and named one of the “Top Workplaces in the Greater Washington Area” by the Washington Post.
Deloitte- Distinguished Winner
Deloitte has been a member of the ASMC Land of Lincoln (LoL) Chapter and National ASMC for the past 29 years. The company has been constant supporters of the Land of Lincoln goals and those of the National organization through continued contributions of time and resources. Deloitte continues to provide support over the years with their annual vendor booth to both the local Mini PDI and the National PDI providing updates to emerging issues within the Financial Community. The Deloitte staff at Scott AFB strongly advocates participation in the annual National PDI and local activities to all ASMC members, citing the importance of education, training, and networking throughout the FM community. Additionally, Deloitte has been a continuous monetary sponsor of the National PDI and provided several workshop speakers throughout their many years of membership. Deloitte staff has served on national committees and worked closely with ASMC staff thoughout their many years of membership. Staff has written articles for the Armed Forces Comptroller Journal, served as volunteers at the National PDI and supported Corporate breakfasts in the Washington DC area. They solicited their staff for membership, annual fundraisers for local scholarships and participation in local chapter community service projects. Their efforts resulted in corporate donations for the charitable golf tournament as well as volunteers for the local community service projects.
Yesterday, the House Appropriations Committee (HAC) approved FY2016 funding for Military Construction (included in the total Department of Defense (DoD) budget request) and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The MilCon/VA bill and the Energy appropriations bill were the first FY2016 appropriations bills to advance in the House. Noting the beginning of the appropriations season in the House, HAC chair Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY) said this will be, I think, the earliest time in history, at least since 1974, that we will have marked up bills this early.” Rogers said he hopes both bills will be on the House floor next week.
The Military Construction portion of the MilCon/VA bill provides $7.151 billion for military construction projects, family housing, Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), and the NATO Security Investment Program. This amount is $1.3 billion less than the president’s request.
However, $532 million of this reduction was funded in the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) appropriation (Navy & Marine Corps $244 million, Air Force $75 million, and Defense-wide accounts $213 million). Therefore, the actual cut to requested military construction programs was $755 million.
The HAC bill would reduce the DoD funding request for active component military construction projects by $389 million (excluding funds transferred to OCO) and Guard and Reserve accounts by $39 million. The HAC bill would fully fund the request for Family Housing projects and existing Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). The bill would also add $30 for the NATO Security Investment Program to support fixed and mobile infrastructure projects for NATO operations and $30 million to the Army for the construction of access roads.
The HAC bill also would rescind $386.5 million from prior appropriations Acts.
The HAC took no action on the administration’s request to authorize another BRAC round as such an authorization is not under the committee’s jurisdiction.
The Department of Defense (DoD) announced last week that Better Buying Power 3.0 is taking the next step in its efforts to improve the productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness of DoD’s acquisition and logistics and to achieve dominant capabilities.
Deputy Secretary Robert Work said at a press conference announcing BBP 3.0 that a major impetus for its implementation is “a steady erosion of our technological superiority that we have relied upon for so long in all of our defense strategies.” This is “one of the biggest issues facing our department and our nation,” he stressed. BBP 3.0 will provide “dominant capabilities to the warfighter to try to maintain that technological overmatch that we’ve always enjoyed and try to extend it if possible,” he said.
BBP 3.0 is the third iteration of DoD’s program to improve its acquisition process to get more from every acquisition dollar. BBP 1.0 (2010) stressed best practices and 2.0 (2013) emphasized critical thinking skills and better tools for the decision makers.
BBP 3.0 places a “stronger emphasis on innovation, technical excellence, and the quality of our products,” Frank Kendall, DoD’s Under Secretary for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics said in a memo implementing BBP 3.0. The overarching theme is “Achieving Dominant Capabilities through Technical Excellence and Innovation,” he said.
There are eight focus areas for achieving dominant capabilities: Achieve affordable programs; Achieve dominant capabilities while controlling costs; Incentivize productivity in industry and government; Incentivize innovation in industry and government; Eliminate unproductive processes and bureaucracy; Promote effective competition; Improve tradecraft in acquisition of services; and Improve the professionalism of the acquisition workforce. Some of these areas are “core” initiatives from earlier versions, some are expanded, and some are new. These areas contains over 30 initiatives.
Within these areas, BBP 3.0 sets goals for new focus initiatives. To Institutionalize Stronger DOD Level Long Range Program Plans, the Deputy Assistance Secretary of Defense will lead the development of the Long Range Research and Development Program Plan (LRRDPP) by July 15, 2015. The LRRDPP explores and develops “new technologies and approaches to warfighting.”
Cybersecurity issues will receive special attention. BBP 3.0 seeks to Strengthen Cybersecurity throughout the Product Lifecycle. Efforts will focus on ways to improve cybersecurity of system designs and methods to implement higher levels of protection for unclassified technical information. DoD components and the military services will develop a ways to link Intelligence, counterintelligence, law enforcement, and acquisition activities to improve protection of classified and unclassified technical information.
To Remove Barriers to Commercial Technology Utilization, DoD will assess the potential benefits from greater participation in consortium arrangements focused on innovation, establish a “Community of Practice” for faster acquisition of Commercial Off-the-Shelf products and commercial services, and evaluate possible legislative changes to give DOD greater access to commercial technology.
BBP 3.0 will also seek to increase the use of prototyping and experimentation to allow the exploration of innovative operational concepts, improve outreach to global markets for technology and products, strengthen organic engineering capabilities by more proactively managing the organic workforce, and use modular open systems to stimulate innovation. DoD will also promote outreach efforts to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education and careers.
Kendall stressed implementing BBP 3.0 is even more important during the current period of financial constraint, especially with sequestration set to reengage in FY2016. “Getting as much buying power for the money as we possibly can is what this is all about,” Kendall said.
More detailed information is available on the Better Buying Power program website.
Congress returns this week from its spring recess ready to complete action on the FY2016 Budget Resolution. The House and Senate passed their versions last month and must reconcile the differences.
The annual budget resolution sets revenue and spending targets for the tax writing and appropriations committees so they can begin work on the president’s budget request. This is an internal congressional procedure and therefore the passed budget resolution is not sent to the president for approval.
The House and Senate bills set the FY2016 total federal spending level at $3.8 trillion, reach a balanced budget in 10 years, and repeal Obamacare. The House bill would cut $5.5 billion in spending from the current policy level for FY2016-25, while the Senate proposes to reduce spending by $5.1 trillion over the next ten years. The difference is primarily due to the Senate’s smaller cut to nondefense discretionary spending.
The House and Senate bills do not change the requirement to return to sequestration in FY2016, even though most in Congress continue to decry effects of the across-the-board cuts, and keep discretionary spending caps in place.
For defense, both bills keep baseline national defense (DoD plus other defense-related spending such as the Department of Energy’s nuclear program) funding at the sequester level of $523 billion.
However, both bills propose to increase funding for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) as a way of increasing defense while staying within the statutory cap levels, because OCO funding is considered emergency spending. The House includes $96 billion for OCO, while the Senate bill set OCO funding at $89 billion. This $7 billion difference must be resolved in conference.
But, the $96 billion OCO in the House bill includes $6 billion OCO funding for the State Department. The $89 billion in the Senate bill (according to reports) does not include any OCO funding for State. So, it appears that there is only a $1 billion difference between the House and Senate bills for DoD, which should make resolution on DoD relatively easy.
There is one complicating factor to the House and Senate scheme to add defense funding while staying within the statutory caps. There is a Senate point of order against the bill that says any proposal to increase OCO spending above the requested level of $50.9 billion needs 60 votes in the Senate. With Republicans having only 54 Senate seats, six Democrats would have to join all Republicans to overrule the point of order to approve the higher defense amount. So, conferees will have to address this point of order issue.
April 15 is the target date for completing the budget resolution so the appropriations committees can begin crafting the 12 appropriations bills. House Budget Committee chair Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) and Senate Budget Committee chair Mike Enzi (R-WY) issued a joint press release last week in which they said they “look forward to the House-Senate beginning its work as early as next week, followed by congressional passage of a joint concurrent budget resolution for our nation.” It is unlikely that House and Senate conferees can compete their work by Wednesday, but there will be strong push by Republican leaders to pass a resolution so House appropriators can mark up some bills before memorial Day.
As of 12:00, April 9, ASMC HQ is experiencing phone and internet outages. You may have difficulty reaching us until this is resolved. Comcast reports an ETA of 14:55 for full service restoration. Please bear with us, and thank you for your patience.
This year's winners wrote essays on the current topic of: “What improvements are necessary in the resource management profession as resources and personnel continue to decline? Describe how to implement the proposed improvements.” Congratulations to the winners – and watch for the winning essays soon.
Christopher Babcock, National Guard Chapter
Chris Babcock is a Director with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC). He has over twenty-five years of experience in federal and defense financial management, including expertise in budgeting and obligation / expenditure management and execution at Federal appropriation and Army command levels, as well as experience supporting multiple large-scale financial management and payroll/personnel ERP developments and implementations. Chris is also a retired Army financial management officer, with over 26 years of active and reserve officer and enlisted service. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree, and obtained a Master of Business Administration degree through the Army Comptrollership Program at Syracuse University. Chris is a Project Management Professional (PMP), a Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM), and a Certified Defense Financial Manager with Acquisition Specialty (CDFM-A).
Cathy Ho, Mount Vernon Chapter
Cathy Ho is a Senior Financial Management Analyst working for the Cost & Resource Integration Division, Cost & Economics Directorate, ASA (Financial Management & Comptroller). Ms. Ho has 20 years of experience in the Army and OSD (C) providing expertise in auditing, budgeting, programming, cost benefit analysis, and financial management. She is a Certified Defense Financial Manager – Acquisition. Ms. Ho is also a Certified Chief Information Officer from National Defense University.
Major Mary Mangum, Aloha Chapter
Major Mary Mangum is currently the Chief of Base Integration for Financial Management Directorate, Pacific Air Forces, Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam, HI. She holds a BA from The George Washington University and a Masters from Websters University. She has 10 years of resource management experience in program management and finance management for the US Air Force.
The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) will begin to mark up the FY2016 Defense Authorization bill on Wednesday, April 22.
The HASC press release announced that subcommittee markups and the full committee markup will be streamed live on the committee’s YouTube Channel.
The HASC markup schedule calls for two subcommittees to mark up on Wednesday April 22: the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee (2:30 PM) and the Readiness Subcommittee (4:30 PM). On Thursday, April 23 the remaining four subcommittee will mark: the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee (8:30 AM); the Military Personnel Subcommittee (9:30 AM); the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee (10:30 AM); and the Strategic Forces Subcommittee (12:00 NOON).
The full committee markup is scheduled for the following week on Wednesday April 29 at 10:00 AM. HASC chair Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) hopes to take the bill to the House floor in early May.
As in past years, subcommittees are expected to release draft markups on the HASC website before the subcommittee meets.
We are pleased to announce the winners of the CY2014 ASMC Achievement Awards! This award category recognizes individuals and teams for outstanding accomplishments within one of the functional fields of membership. Click here to see the full list of individual and team winners.
The Defense Department's top acquisition official yesterday made his third visit to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, home to U.S. Navy Naval Air Systems Command, or NAVAIR.
Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Frank Kendall spoke to members of the base’s civilian and military workforce, many of whom conduct acquisition, testing and development work for several next-generation aircraft and weapons systems, including the Navy and Marine Corps variants of the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter and the MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial vehicle.
Kendall outlined the importance of developing the next generation of engineers, scientists and acquisition professionals to ensuring that the nation maintains its technological superiority.
"Science, technology and math education ... I think is hugely important to the future of the country, not just the Department of Defense," he said. "I'm encouraging people to be engaged in that world and do whatever you can to encourage young people to go into science, engineering and math because of the service they can provide to society, and because it's fun."
Kendall said the single-most important decision in his career was one he made in junior high school, when he elected to take honors math and science instead of honors English and history. That decision put him on a technical track that he's stayed on ever since, the undersecretary said.
Mid-career professionals in the defense workforce are outnumbered on either side by the very capable senior professionals who are close to retirement and personnel just starting their careers, Kendall said.
"We've really got a challenge to transfer the knowledge from those senior people to those younger people and develop them as quickly as possible," he said. "I'm a big fan of exchanges with industry ... [and] developmental assignments for people. I think you get an awful lot out of that. You can learn a great deal in a year or even six months in a different environment."
To do this, the department is investigating adding flexibility to its hiring authorities, Kendall said. Defense Secretary Ash Carter also wants to attract young workers from fields that don't traditionally join the defense department, particularly tech workers, he said.
The quest to maintain American technological superiority is the driving force behind the third Better Buying Power initiative, the undersecretary said.
Kendall said that when he returned to government after a stint in private industry it became apparent that there were "some people out there who were challenging our technological superiority, and they're doing it very effectively." These challengers are making smart investments, particularly in anti-access/area-denial capabilities, he said.
The first Gulf War was a "dramatic demonstration of [U.S.] military power," the undersecretary said. No one was watching those events more carefully than the Chinese, Kendall noted, and the Russians weren't far behind. But, he said, "People have had over 20 years now to watch and learn from how the U.S. organizes, equips and fights."
Better Buying Power 3.0
The three versions of Better Buying Power should be considered three legs of the same stool, Kendall said. "The third edition of Better Buying Power ... is much more continuity than change," he added.
The emphasis of the first Better Buying Power was on efficiency and productivity, BBP 2.0 emphasized the importance of professionalism, the undersecretary said, and BBP 3.0 focuses on technical excellence and innovation.
"A lot of the things from the earlier versions we're still going to do, some of them I regard as core parts of Better Buying Power," Kendall said, noting that NAVAIR and other agencies have embraced these principles and are making significant progress toward achieving them.
One addition to BBP 3.0 is an emphasis on cybersecurity, the undersecretary said. "If we're giving away our designs we're giving up whatever advantage that they give to us. We're giving up money and we're giving up time and we're giving up capability," he said.
The nation's civilian and military networks are under cyberattack every day, Kendall said.
"We have lost, in particular, a lot of unclassified technical information through, basically, cyber espionage and we have paid a price for that," the undersecretary said. "We have paid a price in terms of technical lead and in terms of cost differentials that we were able to achieve. We have got to do a better job than this."
Cybersecurity is "a constant problem" in every phase of the acquisition and fielding process -- from design to production to deployment -- he said. Giving the problem the attention it needs will cost the nation some money, Kendall said, "but if we don't do it we're going to have new problems and we're going to find out about those problems at a very inconvenient time."
(Follow Claudette Roulo on Twitter: @roulododnews)
U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.
Officials reported details of the latest strikes, which took place between 8 a.m. yesterday and 8 a.m. today, local time, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.
Airstrikes in Syria
Fighter aircraft conducted an airstrike near Kobani, Syria, which struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
Airstrikes in Iraq
Attack, fighter, bomber and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 14 airstrikes against ISIL terrorists in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:
-- Near Bayji, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.
-- Near Fallujah, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL excavator.
-- Near Mosul, three airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL vehicles, two ISIL heavy machine guns and an ISIL building.
-- Near Tal Afar, three airstrikes struck an ISIL large tactical unit, an ISIL storage facility, an ISIL fighting position and destroyed an ISIL building and an ISIL heavy machine gun; and
-- Near Tikrit, six airstrikes struck six ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL anti-aircraft artillery weapon.
All aircraft returned to base safely.
Part of Operation Inherent Resolve
The strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to eliminate the ISIL terrorist group and the threat they pose to Iraq, Syria, the region, and the wider international community. The destruction of ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq further limits the terrorist group's ability to project terror and conduct operations.
Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Iraq include the United States, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Jordan, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Syria include the United States, Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
Crisp winds snapped across the sprawling grounds here today as members of the National Basketball Association’s Houston Rockets visited gravesites of fallen service members, met with an Army widow, and laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The Rockets face off against the Washington Wizards tomorrow. But the Houston team members opted to tour the cemetery and Pentagon today as part of “Commitment to Service,” the Defense Department’s partnership with the NBA.
Jane Horton, whose husband, Army National Guard sniper Spc. Chris Horton, was killed in action in Afghanistan Sept. 9, 2011, led Rockets Head Coach Kevin McHale and his team throughout Arlington’s grounds, including her husband’s gravesite and the Memorial Amphitheater.
Widow Recalls Husband’s Service, Sacrifice
Horton, 28, told the team her husband was only 26 when he succumbed to enemy fire in Paktia province while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
“Even though my husband died at such a young age, he still had eight more years than so many buried here who died at age 18,” she said. “There was nothing more that Chris wanted to do than serve his country during wartime and unfortunately he was one of 2,215 that were killed in Afghanistan.”
The significance of the setting seemed to resonate with the basketball team members who read gravestones belonging to service members close in age to the athletes.
Former Boston Celtic McHale joined Rockets shooting guard James Harden and center Dwight Howard in the wreath-laying ceremony.
“I think we’re all here because of the sacrifices people made not only over in the Middle East, but starting with World War I and World War II,” McHale said. “My father fought in World War II and so did my uncle so I’m very proud of their service.”
‘It’s a Great Honor and a Blessing to be Here’
Harden described his participation in the ceremony as “an amazing experience.”
“I got to do something that the President does every year,” he said. “It’s a great honor and a blessing to be here.”
Howard shared Harden’s sentiment, calling his visit an honor and humbling.
“I’ve never experienced anything like this,” Howard said. “To be in the presence of these great people is amazing and it’s something I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.”
Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, commanding general, Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region/U.S. Army Military District of Washington, noted the precision and significance of the changing of the guard ritual that ensures the tomb is guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in any weather.
Tomb Guard sentinels, all volunteers, are elite members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) headquartered at Fort Myer, Virginia.
(Follow Amaani Lyle on Twitter: @LyleDoDNews)
House Armed Services Committee (HASC) chair Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) introduced a bill containing the first in a series of broad ranging defense acquisition reforms.
During a year-long effort, the committee engaged stakeholders from the Department of Defense (DoD), industry, and Congress to develop proposals for long-term reform of the defense acquisition system. Thornberry called his proposal “the first step on what I expect to be many years of focused work to improve our flawed defense acquisition system.”
“The broken acquisition system is contributing to the loss of our military’s technological edge,” Thornberry charged. He said the current system is slow, cumbersome, and often many years late in delivering equipment that frequently under performs and is costly to maintain.
The proposed “Agile Acquisition to Retain Technological Edge Act” would streamline the process, improve accountability, and eliminate outdated regulations, thereby begin “to get some of that edge back,” Thornberry stressed. The bill’s provisions promote a system that is “proactive, agile, transparent, and innovative.”
To be proactive, the bill proposes to empower acquisition officials by removing barriers so that officers can pursue acquisition as a profession. It would provide a “Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Fund” and expedited hiring authority for hiring and training the acquisition workforce. The bill also would give acquisition program managers greater flexibility to address programmatic risk and enable the selection of contract types that best meet program objectives with an appropriate level of risk.
The bill promotes quick program adjustments by allowing program managers to focus on oversight, engineering, and risk management. The proposal would consolidate reporting requirements, streamline the approval process, and identify key considerations that are addressed during the life of the program. The bill also would eliminate “non-productive Departmental legal review” in some cases.
The bill promotes transparency by supporting government and industry communication that is clear and open and the production of auditable financial management statements.
The proposed reform bill would remove barriers that inhibit companies from seeking defense business or proposing new ideas. The bill would promote the use of value engineering to encourage contractors to reduce costs and share savings. The Mentor-protégé Program would be made permanent to improve the linkage small and large defense contractors. Also, the bill would make the Small Business Innovative Research Program permanent to be used “more broadly by the military services and defense agencies.”
Thornberry said the reforms will be considered for inclusion in the FY2016 Defense Authorization bill, which the HASC will take up next month. Ranking Member Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) co-sponsored Thornberry’s proposals.
Thornberry said he released his recommendations of what he called a “discussion draft” of the bill now because he wanted feedback from the stakeholders. “We listened to a lot of folks as we drafted this bill, and we want to hear from them again before we work to make it law,” he said.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has issued a National Strategy for Real Property that directs agencies to lower the real estate footprint beginning next year.
In a memo to federal agencies, OMB Controller Dave Maulder said the National Strategy for Real Property “establishes a new strategic framework through which the government can manage its real property.” This framework will “guide agencies’ real property management, increase efficient real property use, control costs, and real property holdings,” he stressed.
In 2013, OMB ordered agencies to freeze their domestic real estate footprint and better utilize existing space through consolidation and higher occupancy rates. Under the “Freeze the Footprint Policy,” agencies were prohibited agencies from increasing “the total square footage of their domestic office and warehouse inventory compared to the 2012 baseline.”
OMB is calling the policy a success. Between 2012 and 2014, agencies cut 21.4 million square feet of space, according to OMB. In 2014 the government “disposed of 7,350 buildings, 44 million square feet of space, and eliminated $17 million of annual operation and maintenance cost,” OMB said.
The new Strategy will build on this success, Mr. Maulder stressed. The Strategy has three key steps: 1) freeze inventory growth; 2) measure performance; and 3) reduce real estate inventory.
The inventory freeze will continue through 2020. Measuring the performance of office and warehouse assets will “identify opportunities for efficiency improvements through data driven decision-making.” Inventory will be reduced by consolidating, co-locating, and disposing properties. The disposal of excess and underutilized properties will also be accelerated.
The “Reduce the Footprint” (FTF) policy issued to implement the Strategy directs agencies to establish targets for annual cuts in domestic buildings square footage and implement space design standards in using domestic office space.
The FTF requires agencies to develop a five-year Real Property Efficiency Plan by July 10, 2015. Each plan will contain a description of internal controls that: describe the processes used by agencies to identify offsets when adding space; describe internal reviews and certification processes required for new leases, acquisitions, and expansions; and justification documentation when not applying standard designs.
Each agency plan will also: describe its use of the President’s Management Agenda performance benchmarks; report on its reduction targets for office and warehouse space; report on its disposal targets for owned spaces; and a plan to identify opportunities for reducing office space and warehouse. Agencies will also document investment costs and total cost reductions through disposal of leased space and owned buildings and provide an explanation of actions taken to maximize and increase office space efficiency.
The agency plans will identify offsets for any growth in total office space “to ensure that there is no net increase in the size of owned and leased office inventory. The Department of Defense (DoD) will be able to count as offsets any office of warehouse space at military installations that are closed or realigned under the Defense Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process. However, properties “mothballed,” enhanced use leases or outleases, and properties for which the Federal Real Property Profile (FRPP) use code is changed to other than office or warehouse after the baseline is finalized cannot be counted as offsets.
The final Real Property Efficiency Plan is due September 10, 2015. Each year after that, agencies will submit a plan for the next five-year period until 2020.
The total cost of 77 selected Department of Defense (DoD) major acquisition programs decreased by $9.1 billion (-.06 percent) in 2014, according to a report issued by DoD last week.
This small increase reflects increased planned quantities (+$2.5 billion), program schedule changes (+$2.4 billion), higher costs due to engineering changes (+$5.4 billion), increased program cost estimates (+$0.2 billion), and other changes ($0.2 billion). Extending Offsetting these increases were cost decreases due to lower escalation rates (-$10.8 billion) and a drop in support costs (-$9.0 billion).
When $6.964.4 billion is added to extend the funding for Ballistic Missile Defense through FY2020 (previous reports limited BMD funding through FY2019) and adjustments are made for final and initial reports, the total cost of DOD major acquisition programs as of December 31, 2014 is $1.622 trillion.
The DoD report also identified one program that experienced critical Nunn-McCurdy unit cost breaches—unit cost increases of 25 percent or more to the current Acquisition Program Baseline (APB) or 50 percent or more to the original APB. The Joint Standoff Weapon—Baseline Variant and Unitary Warhead Variant (JSOW). The breach occurred because JSOW production was terminated after FY2015 in the president’s FY2016 budget resulting in a significant reduction in quantities.
The Warfighter Information Network—Tactical Increment 2 (WIN-T Inc2) experienced a significant McCurdy breach—unit cost increases of 15 percent, but less than 25 percent of the current APB or 30 percent, but less than 50 percent of the original APB. The WIN-T Inc 2 breach was due to a 32 percent quantity decrease (5,267 to 3,583) and a procurement schedule extension.
Programs submitting their initial SAR reports are not represented in the total cost growth estimates for a particular year. For this reporting period, the initial report was submitted for the Air Force Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Fuze Modernization (ICBM Fuze Mod) program at a cost estimate of $2.076 billion.
The cost estimates for selected programs are reported in the congressionally-required Selected Acquisition Reports (SAR). SAR estimates of total program costs include actual costs to date and estimated future costs. Program costs include research and development, procurement, military construction, and operations and maintenance costs that are acquisition-related.
DoD prepares these congressionally-required reports annually (with submission of the budget). Quarterly reports are prepared for programs that experience cost increases of 15 percent or more, and schedule delays of at least six months. DoD also submits quarterly reports for a program’s initial and final report, or for programs that are rebaselined during major milestone reviews.
Proposed Houe Budget Resolution would cut spending by $5.5 trillion, increase defense, but not end sequestration
A budget resolution approved by the House Budget Committee (HBC) yesterday would cut $5.5 trillion from federal budgets over the next 10 years and balance the budget by 2024.
HBC Chairman Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) called the resolution “a strong step forward in addressing the nation’s fiscal and economic challenges.”
The annual budget resolution, often referred to as a “congressional budget blueprint,” sets revenue and appropriations targets for the tax writing and appropriations committees, so they can begin work on the president’s budget request. This is an internal congressional procedure, so the passed budget resolution is not sent to the president for approval.
The HBC plan, “A Balanced Budget for a Stronger America,” would set the FY2016 total federal spending level at $3.8 trillion, about $140 billion less than current policy. Of the $5.5 trillion reduction from 2016 to 2025, $2.2 trillion would come from changes to the health care law and $2.1 trillion from Medicare, Medicaid, and other mandatory programs. The remaining reduction would result from cuts to discretionary programs (-$539 billion) and lower interest payments on the debt ($-798 billion).
The HBC proposal would not end sequestration.
The budget discretionary budget authority for national defense (DoD plus other defense-related spending such as the Department of Energy’s nuclear program) would increase by $387 billion from FY2017 to FY2025, while cutting non-defense budgets by $759 billion over the same period.
In FY2016, the proposed budget would keep defense at the sequester level of $523 billion, but would set funding for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) at $90 billion, about $40 billion above the request. The president’s national defense base budget request was $561 billion, $38 billion above the cap.
The committee’s budget resolution would also set up a “Defense Readiness and Modernization Fund” that could be used to increase defense funding is a way that would be considered “deficit-neutral,” just like funding for the OCO account.
House pro-defense supporters urged the committee to approve an amendment adding more defense funds. This concerned so-called “deficit hawks” who are troubled about resulting increases to the deficit, unless they were offset by cuts elsewhere. The House leadership, worried that this standoff could imperil passage of the budget resolution on the house floor, brokered a deal that the Rules Committee would accept an amendment to increase OCO funding to $96 billion, without requiring any offsets, and would not require offsets for the $20 billion “Defense Readiness and Modernization Fund.”
The full House is expected to consider the budget resolution next week
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The House (HASC) and Senate (SASC) Armed Services Committees have made their case for FY2016 defense funding higher than the Obama administration request.
In letters to House and Senate Budget Committees expressing their views on defense funding levels, both the HASC and SASC urge the Budget Committees to set defense funding levels in the budget resolution higher than the current budget caps allow and what the president has requested.
The president’s request for FY2016 discretionary budget authority (funds provided in appropriations bills) for National Defense is $561 billion, $38 billion above the caps set in the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA). This includes: $534.3 for the DoD base budget; $19.1 billion for the Energy department’s defense activities; and $7.6 billion for other defense-related activities (including FBI defense-related activities).
HASC Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), in a letter co-signed by 30 members of the HASC, urges the House Budget Committee to set the national defense funding target at $577 billion, the pre-sequestration level (+$54 billion above the cap). As a fallback, Thornberry recommends $566 billion, $43 billion above the cap, with a return to the pre-sequestration funding level in FY2017.
The HASC letter argues that the constraints on defense funding, in large part due to sequestration cuts, have made it exceedingly difficult for the military to prepare for current and future threats to U.S. security. The letter cites “a wide array of serious, complex threats which are growing more dangerous because of doubts about the United States security posture.” These threats include: increased defense spending by Russia and China; Iran’s nuclear and missile programs and its support of terrorism; North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs; the growing strength and reach of Islamic extremist groups; new cyber and space threats; and technological challenges as adversaries attempt to exploit U.S. vulnerabilities.
Thornberry underscores that the department agrees that under the current defense funding levels, the military “will not be able to fight and meet demands of the National Military Strategy until 2023.”
The SASC letter, signed by committee chairman Sen John McCain (R-AZ) and Ranking Democrat Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) also urges the Senate Budget Committee to set a national defense funding level at $577 billion.
The SASC letter identifies numerous events over the past year that it says justifies a defense increase. In testimony before the SASC, former Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger opined that “the United States has not faced a more diverse and complex array of crises since the end of the Second World War.” The committee cites the Russian efforts to destabilize Ukraine, the declaration of an Islamic state in the heart of the Middle East. Iran’s efforts to develop ballistic missiles and support for terrorism, North Korea’s continued development of its nuclear arsenal, the deterioration of the states of Yemen and Libya, and the rise of tensions with China.
In the face of these growing threats, the SASC argues the ability of the U.S military to respond is undermined by “the destructive impact” of sequestration. The committee charges that the effect of sequestration has been “devastating to the capabilities, readiness, morale, add modernization of our armed forces,” a position it says is supported by the chiefs of the Military Services and the finding of the National Defense Panel. The SASC letter strongly urges the Senate Budget Committee to end sequestration.
The committee stresses that if additional funding is provided for defense, DoD must adopt “additional defense reforms, efficiencies, and modernization initiatives that can add value for taxpayers and capability fort our troops.” The committee recommends: acquisition reform that enhances competition and provides greater accountability; efforts to ensure that DoD will meet its goal to be audit-ready by 2017; a thorough examination of the recommendations of the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Committee; and further investigation of potential waste, fraud, and abuse. The committee also urges additional management reforms to consolidate facilities and organization, slow personnel cost growth, increase contract competition, and improve training of the department’s financial management workforce.
The House and Senate budget committees are developing their versions of a budget resolution for FY2016. The annual budget resolution, often referred to as a “congressional budget blueprint,” sets revenue and appropriations targets for the tax writing and appropriations committees, so they can begin work on the president's budget request. The congressional Budget Resolution is an internal congressional procedure so the passed budget resolution is not sent to the president for approval.