The Department of Defense (DoD) reported that since August 8, 2014, the cost of U.S. military operations in Iraq and Syria (Operation Inherent Resolve-OIR) against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) totaled $8.7 billion as of July 31, 2016.
Flying operations accounted for 43 percent ($3.7 billion) of total costs, while mission support costs were 34 percent ($3.0 billion) and munitions were 23 percent (2.0 billion) of total costs.
The average daily cost is $12.1 million, up $.9 million reported at the end of 2015. DoD reports that $5.2 million of the daily average is for flying OPTEMPO, $2.7 million for munitions, $2.1 million for logistical support, $1.9 million for operational support, and $0.2 million for other costs.
The Air Force continues to bear the lion’s share of total costs at 65 percent ($5.7 billion). The Army share is 16 percent ($1.4 billion) and the Navy share is 11 percent (almost $1 billion). Special Operations Command (SOCCOM) costs at $700 million are 8 percent of the total.
Air Force costs are averaging $7.8 million per day, while the Army daily costs are averaging $1.9 million and Navy costs are $1.3 million a day. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) costs are averaging $1 million daily.
Nations partnering with the U.S in conducting airstrikes against ISIL include Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Jordan, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom
Through June 30, DoD reports that coalition forces conducted 10,615 close air support, escort, and interdiction air sorties in 2016. In 2014 (August through December) coalition forces conducted 6,591 such sorties and in 2015 (January through December) they carried out 21,113 sorties.
The General Services Administration (GSA) announced this month that federal employees will receive slightly higher daily Per Diem reimbursement rates for official travel in FY2017.
Per Diem rates are the maximum amounts a federal employee can receive as reimbursement for allowable expenses while on official duty travel. GSA sets per diem rates for locations in CONUS.
Per Diem rates in Standard areas in the Continental nited States (CONUS) for lodging will be $91 in FY2017, up from $89 in FY2017. The Standard area rate covers most of the continental CONUS 2,600 counties.
Per Diem rates for lodging at some 350 Non-Standard areas (NSAs) will vary depending on local conditions.
Daily rates for meals and incidental expenses (M&IE) in Standard areas will be unchanged at $51 in FY2017. The MI&E rates for Standard areas are based on the change in the Consumer Price Index for “Food Away from Home.”
The M&IE rate for NSAs (divided into six tiers) will continue to range from $54 to $74. Travelers receive 75 percent of the appropriate MIE rate on the first and the last days of travel. M&IE rates for NSAs are based on surveys of local restaurants.
Federal Travel Regulations still allow federal travelers to be reimbursed for actual expenses if per diem rates do not meet necessary expenses.
According to the GSA Per Diem Bulletin FTR 17-01 there are no new NSAs in FY2017. However, GSA announced that three NSA locations will become Standard areas: Lexington Park/Leonardtown/Lusby, MD; New Bern, NC; and Minot, ND.
The new Per Diem rates go into effect on Oct. 1, 2016.
Federal agencies have received guidance on providing performance awards to members of the Senior Executive Services (SES) and to Senior Level (SL) and Senior Professional and Scientific (ST) employees in FY2017.
This guidance was required in Executive Order 13714, “Strengthening the Senior Executive Service (SES), issued by President Obama Dec. 15, 2015.
A memo containing this guidance was issued to agency heads by Beth Colbert, Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and Shaun Donovan, Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The memo implements limits for total agency spending on individual performance awards as directed by the Executive Order.
For individual rating-based performance awards agencies may spend up to 7.5 percent of the aggregate salaries of their career executives for SES and SL/St employees.
For individual contribution awards (e.g. special act, suggestion, and invention awards), agencies may spend up to 7.5 percent of the aggregate salaries of their career executives for SES and SL/St employees.
Before 2010 there was no agency spending limit on awards to SL/ST employees and the spending limit for SES employee awards was 10 percent for each agency.
A freeze on discretionary awards, bonuses, and similar payments to political employees, set in 2010, will remain in effect.
The OMB/OPM guidance advises agencies to the maintain integrity of its awards programs by allocating awards “in a manner that provides meaningfully greater awards to top performers.” Specifically, the guidance encourages agencies “to use these awards to recognize those senior leaders who take on the most challenging assignments, use exemplary innovative and collaborative methods, take on challenging rotational assignments, and/or have the greatest impact on agency priorities and mission imperatives.”
The guidance also encourages agencies to award time-off and individual contribution awards to recognize accomplishments throughout the year. These awards can be granted even if an employee “is not rated at the highest rating levels.”
The ASMC 2016 Survey of Defense Financial Professionals is now available on-line! It only takes about 5 minutes to complete. Your participation will provide important information on the collective opinions of defense financial managers, about status and trends in the defense FM environment. We value your opinion very much, and encourage ASMC member and non-member FMers to take the time to ensure your views are included in the survey results. Also, ASMC HQ will award $300, $200, and $100 respectively to the ASMC Chapters that have the highest, second highest, and third highest survey response rates among their members. To access the survey enter the following url in your browser: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/2940120/2016-ASMC-Online-Questionnaire
The Summer Edition of our Armed Forces Comptroller, “New Heights of Financial Management – A PDI 2016 Retrospective,” is Out! This issue is brought to life with articles focusing on Financial Management and ASMC’s 2016 PDI. Thanks much to those of you who help us save costs by electing to receive only the digital edition of our journal, accessible at http://bit.ly/ASMCpublications. Those of you receiving the print edition should have it in your mailbox shortly. Our contractor advised us the 10-question digital assessment for this edition will be available on our LMS NLT the end of this week. As a reminder, after reading the journal, ASMC members may sign in and take the assessment to receive two CPEs/CETs.
Consider submitting an article for an upcoming issue; find out themes of upcoming issues by visiting the AFC Journal Home Page http://bit.ly/ASMCjournal.
We thank Cotton & Company, Kearney & Company, Management Concepts, PenFed Credit Union, and Sehlke Consulting for advertising in this issue.
Enjoy our summer edition and, after you’ve read it, take it to the office to share with a friend!
Update your member profile at http://bit.ly/ASMCmemberprofile to provide us your current contact info, especially if you have recently relocated, so you continue to receive the Armed Forces Comptroller. Also, you can update your chapter designation when you move to a new location and associate with the chapter there – no longer necessary to send a note to HQ asking us to change your chapter designation. Lastly, updating to your personal email address in your profile avoids lapses in ASMC HQ commo with you in the event you change jobs and your work email address changes.
CDFM Module 1, 2, and 3 Refresher Courses are conveniently conducted year-round. All CDFM Refresher Courses offered are aligned with the DoD FM Certification Program (DFMCP), so in addition to CETs, you can receive “direct credit” toward meeting DFMCP requirements. Sessions are continuously updated at http://bit.ly/CDFMMod123Refresh. For those eligible to take advantage of the 5-day, government-funded Enhanced Defense Financial Management Training Course (EDFMTC), the schedule for FY2017 is posted on our website and you may use the EDFMTC Automated Registration tool to register for this course at http://bit.ly/ASMCedfmtc. Additionally, ASMC-licensed vendors offer open enrollment EDFMTC, Acquisition Business Management, and Fiscal Law courses, and can also deliver these courses at your chapter or organization. Learn more about open enrollment training offerings at http://bit.ly/ASMCclassroomtraining or write firstname.lastname@example.org for vendor contact information.
ASMC National PDI 2017 will be conducted May 31 – June 2, 2017 in San Diego! We expect to have registration available NLT mid-March 2017.
PDI 2016, based upon feedback we received, was a terrific success! Special thanks to everyone who worked so well together to make it happen! Tremendous teamwork!
As a reminder, Virtual PDI 2016 is online at http://bit.ly/ASMCvpdi2016
PDI 2016 slides are also available online at http://bit.ly/ASMC_PDI2016slides
Any questions – contact Brian Gresham, our Associate Director for Communications and Public Affairs at email@example.com.
The 2016 ASMC Survey of defense financial managers is now available on-line! The survey only takes about 5 minutes to complete and the results provide important information concerning the collective opinions of defense financial managers regarding their views of status and trends in the defense financial management environment. We value your opinion very much and encourage you to take the time to ensure your views are included in the survey results. ASMC member and non-member FMers are encouraged to participate in the survey. ASMC will award $300 to the ASMC Chapter that has the highest response rate for this survey, $200 for the second highest response rate, and $100 for third highest response rate. To access the survey click HERE.
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter swore in Gen. Joseph Lengyel as Chief of the National Guard Bureau (NGB) at the Pentagon.
Lengyel succeeds Army Gen. Frank Grass who is retiring. Grass had been the first NGB Chief to be on the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). Secretary of Defense Ash Carter thanked Gen. Grass for his strong leadership as the National Guard chief.
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter called Gen, Lengyel a “proven strategic thinker” who “will lead this force with certainty, clearly and the full confidence and trust of myself and the president.”
Gen. Lengyel has been the Vice Chief of the National Guard Bureau since August 2012. Prior to that he was the Chief of the Office of Military Cooperation and Defense Attaché, U.S. Central Command, Cairo, Egypt. He has also served as: Vice-Commander. 1st Air Force (Air Forces Northern) Tyndall AFB (July 2010-June 2011); Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Programs, HQ, USAF (June 2010-July 2010); Commander, Air National Guard Readiness Center, Andrews AFB (September 2006-September 2008); Commander, 455th Expeditionary Operations Group, Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan (June 2004-September 2004).
Lengyel was commissioned through Reserve Officer Training Corp Program in 1981. His Air Force operational and staff assignments include: Commander, 149th Operations Group, Kelly AFB (September 1996-June 1997); Commander 182nd Fighter Squadron, Kelly AFB (October 1998-October 1999); and Commander, 149th Operations Group, Lackland AFB (October 1999-February 2002)
Gen Lengyel is the 28th Chief of the National Guard Bureau and will lead over 450,000 Army and Air National Guard personnel.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has issued a new Federal Cybersecurity Workforce Strategy to address the government’s shortfall in cybersecurity professionals,
OMB sent a memo to all Departments and Agencies identifying workforce needs and laying out a strategy to recruit, train, develop, and retain and sustain “a capable and competent workforce in key functional areas” of a cybersecurity workforce. The memo was signed by OMB Director Shaun Donovan, Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Acting Director Beth Colbert, and the Federal Chief Information Officer (CIO) Tony Scott.
The strategy seeks to respond to what OMB calls “increasingly sophisticated and persistent cyber threats that pose strategic, economic, and security challenges” to the United States. These threats, according to OMB, require a “Federal cybersecurity workforce with the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to use those tools to enhance the security of the Federal digital infrastructure and improve the ability to detect and respond to cyber incidents when they occur.”
Development of the Strategy was directed by OMB Memorandum M-16-04, Cybersecurity Strategy and Implementation Plan (CSIP) for the Federal Government, issued October, 2015. OMB coordinated the actions of four teams composed of experts from government, the private sector, and academia, that reviewed “existing and forward-leaning strategies for recruiting, developing, and retaining Cybersecurity professionals.” OMB, along, with OPM, used this work to prepare the workforce strategy.
The National Cybersecurity Workforce Framework (issued last year) outlines how agencies should look at cybersecurity work and the workforce requirements and establish training and development programs. Agencies should examine cyber work roles and determine skill gaps when filling vacancies, according to the memo. The Framework directs agencies to improve cybersecurity workforce requirements by: 1) educating Human Resources and Chief Information Officer staff on the tools available from the Workforce Framework; 2) expanding cybersecurity position coding to align with vacancies; and 3) working with the private sector to look at future workforce needs.
The Strategy provides guidance on how agencies should expand the cybersecurity talent pipeline, recruit and hire skilled talent; and retain and develop that talent. The appendix to the memo sets deadlines from 3 months to one year for completion of the requirements in each of these areas.
To expand the cybersecurity talent pipeline, the government should make long-term investments in cybersecurity education to establish “a sustainable cybersecurity workforce.” Government initiatives, such as “Computer Science for All” (aimed at P-12 students), can be used to stimulate interest in cyber-related fields. The government should also develop a cybersecurity core curriculum and agencies should work with academic institutions to identify and address skill gaps, according to the Strategy.
To recruit and hire skilled cybersecurity talent, the Strategy directs agencies to “engage in strategic recruitment and awareness campaigns” and go after talented students who may not seek out government careers. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will stand up a “Cybersecurity Surge Corps” that will send experts to help agencies with “incident response, systems engineering, and enterprise security.” Agencies are also directed to recruit diverse talent from veterans and current civil servants and develop a program of rotational assignments for private sector employees to share expose them to federal service and share their skills with federal staff. The Strategy also states that the government should also explore the use of existing compensation flexibilities new pay program opportunities.
To retain cybersecurity talent, OMB, OPM, DHS, and other agencies are directed to) focus on retaining top performers; 2) develop a government-wide cybersecurity orientation program; 3) develop and promote career paths, rotational assignments, and mentoring and coaching programs; 4) develop and utilize existing cybersecurity training programs in related career fields; 5) develop and utilize existing competitions and credentialing programs to assist employees in qualifying for pay increases or promotions; and 6) develop a common program for training in specific professional categories of employment.
The FY2016 federal budget deficit will be only $16 billion lower than the administration estimated in February, according to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
In its annual Mid-Session Review of the Budget, OMB now expects the FY2016 deficit to be $600 billion compared to $616 billion, the projection made when the FY2017 budget was released in February. The deficit for FY2017 is expected to be $441 billion, $63 billion lower than OMB’s earlier estimate of $503 billion.
Measured as percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the deficit is expected to be 3.3 percent in FY2016, unchanged from OMB’s previous projection. OMB expects the deficit’s share of GDP to begin declining in FY2017 (2.3 percent) and even further to 1.7 percent in FY2018. That share will hover around 2 percent from FY2019 to 2021 and stay in the 2.4 percent to 2.6 ercent range from FY2022 to 2026, according to OMB.
A $59 billion expected decline in receipts for FY2016 (-1.7 percent) is more than offset by a $75 billion decrease (1.8 percent) in expected expenditures. The lower estimate in revenue is primarily due to technical adjustments based on new tax collection data. Decreased estimates of both discretionary (spending from appropriations) and mandatory spending in FY2016 also reflect economic changes and technical re-estimates.
While OMB now expects cumulative deficits through 2026 to be 14 percent ($880 billion) lower than their February projections, annual deficits will still rise to $731 billion in 2026 from $600 billion in FY2016, totaling $5.2 trillion. Almost 60 percent of the revised total expenditure estimates (-$1.3 trillion) through 2026 are due to expected lower interest payments (-$770 billion), based on revised economic assumptions. OMB expects mandatory expenditures to decline by $597 billion during 2017-2026. Discretionary spending will increase by only $48 billion during the period.
The OMB projections are based on the administration’s economic assumptions and its proposed spending and revenue proposals. The unemployment rate is expected to average 4.8 percent in 2016 (down from 5.3 percent in 2015) and is projected to decline slightly to 4.7 percent in 2017. OMB expects the unemployment rate to stay in the 4.6 to 4.9 percent range through 2026. OMB estimates the annual change in consumer prices (CPI-U) to rise to 2.2 percent in 2017 from 1.2 percent in 2017, and level off at 2.3 percent by 2019.
CBO warns unchecked long-term spending and revenue imbalance could lead to growing deficits and record high debt levels
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) warned this week that unless policymakers make significant changes in government policies on taxes and spending (particularly for Social Security and Medicare), the federal budget deficit and debt would grow steadily over the next 30 years, with potentially significant negative effects on the federal budget and the U.S. economy.
According to CBO’s analysis, future spending growth will outpace modest increases in revenue over the next 30 years. Much higher spending on Social Security and Medicare will reflect the aging U.S. population. By 2046, programs for the 65 and over age group will account for almost half of all federal spending, excluding interest payments. CBO states that health care costs will increase due to the aging population and new medical technologies and high personal income.
CBO presents it analysis primarily in terms of the budget deficit and federal debt share of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
In the absence of action to reduce the government’s spending and revenue imbalance, federal deficits as a share of GDP will rise significantly, CBO’s study shows. In 2016, the deficit measured as a share of GDP will be about 3 percent (down from its high of almost 9 percent in 2009). For the 2017-2026 period, the deficit’s annual average share of GDP would rise to 3,9 percent. And, unless policy changes on spending and taxes are put in place, CBO estimates that the ratio would increase dramatically to over eight percent in 2037-2046.
At the end of 2007, the federal debt accounted for 35 percent of GDP. Since then, that share as skyrocketed. By the end of 2015, the federal debt reached 74 percent of GDP, the highest since World War II. Between 2017 and 2016, CBO estimates that the average annual debt to GDP share will rise to 86 percent. The average debt to GDP ratio will jump to 110 percent in 2027-2036 (exceeding the previous high of 106 in 1946) and reach 141 percent in 2037-2046.
While higher deficits resulting from this spending/revenue imbalance might boost demand and increase output in the short term, CBO warns that resulting high debt levels over the long term would have negative consequences on the budget and the economy.
Growing deficits and large debt levels would limit the government’s options on how to deal with domestic and foreign policy problems. High deficits and debt levels would restrict the government’s ability to borrow money and constrain spending needed to address exigencies. In addition, higher deficits and long-term debt levels could have significant negative effects on the economy. Lower national savings and income, constrained domestic investment, and increased interest costs could increase the chances of fiscal crises, according to CBO.
Today, July 12, 2016, ASMC HQ is temporarily unable to respond to phone calls, as there is a major phone service outage in our area. This is unexpected for us all and we apologize for any inconvenience. Please stand by while we work on figuring out the problem and restoring service.
The Department of Defense (DoD) is now set to begin accepting eligible civilian employees into the phased retirement program. Under the program, eligible federal employees approaching retirement are able continue working part time, while beginning retirement.
Implementation of the Phased Retirement Program has taken longer than expected to implement in the federal government. The program was approved by Congress in July of 2012 and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued implementation rules in 2014. To date less than 100 employees, government wide, are participating.
For DoD, Acting DoD Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness Peter Levine issued a memorandum on June 21st that describes the policy, responsibilities, and procedures under which eligible employees can apply for and be accepted into the program.
Levine said the DoD program “is designed to assist DoD Components with the transfer of knowledge and continuity of operations on a short-term basis.” The program is voluntary and participation requires the approval of both the employee and an authorized Component official. Components can limit the number of employees as necessary. Levine said.
To be eligible for the program employees must have been in full employment status for the previous three years and be eligible for immediate retirement under either the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) or the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). Employees subject to mandatory retirement, such as law-enforcement officers, firefighters, air traffic controllers, or nuclear materials couriers are not eligible for DoD’s phased retirement program.
The eligible employee receives income from a combination of part-time salary (50%) and partial annuity payments (50%). The phased retiree also accrues future retirement benefits proportional to the time they work. Phased retirees are expected to spend 20 percent of their time mentoring other employees.
The DoD directive-type memorandum requires DoD Components to have “written criteria in place that will be used to approve or deny applications for phased retirement before approving or denying such applications.” Employees that are eligible for phased retirement will complete Standard Form 3116 “Phased Employment/Phased Retirement Status Elections.”
Applications must be improved in writing and the phased retirement time period must be established in accordance with DD Form 3018 “Phased Retirement Request and Agreement.”
The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs (ASD(M&RA)) has overall policy responsibility for the DoD program and Component heads have approval authority.
Lei Lily Tam, Aloha
- Nicholas Amore, Buckeye
- Lanie Beard, Central Missouri
- Brandon Morales, High Desert
- Jaquelyn Oelrich, Land of Lincoln
- Hollee Akers, Central MIssouri
- Hannah Donovan, Montgomery
- Madison Garcia, Aloha
- Richard Joseph, Land of Lincoln
Previous winners have also qualified for a renewal of their scholarships:
- Julie Crouch, Central Missouri, $1,500
- Dixon Stone, Great River, $1,500
- Meghan Rice, Buckeye, $1,000
The ASMC wishes these bright students the best of luck in their academic endeavors.
With deepest sympathies, ASMC mourns the passing on June 23, 2016 of,
mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";color:#003F80;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;
mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA”>Colonel Jerry D. Heard, US Army, Retired, 75 Hokes Bluff, Alabama. Using words of many of his friends, Jerry was "a great Soldier, an inspirational leader, a wonderful mentor, and the epitome of professionalism – may the “Commandant” rest peacefully and we thank you for teaching all of us how best 'To Support and Serve.’” Our sincerest condolences to his family and friends. (Full Obituary)
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The Department of Defense (DoD) is making sound progress toward meeting full audit accountability and DoD's leaders expect to meet the goal of full financial statement audit readiness by FY2018, according to DoD's Comptroller Mike McCord.
Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee, McCord told the committee achieving auditability is a key element of Secretary Ash Carter's goal of reforming how DoD does business. He said Secretary Carter and the senior leaders of the Military Departments were committed to “achieving and sustaining auditable financial statements.”
McCord stressed that the successes experienced to date demonstrate that DoD is on track to meet its audit goals. “Our focus on the audit has yielded substantial and measurable results over the past couple of years,” he said. He pointed out that the Military Departments audited their budgets for FY2015 and there have been “successful recurring audits” by other DoD components, e.g., the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) and Defense Commissary Agency, and Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA).
While McCord noted that the Military Department audits did not receive a clean audit statement, “we learned a great deal from our initial effort.” He said “we are making progress, and are fully committed to getting it done.” DoD has a good audit readiness plan and will stick to it, McCord said.
Appearing with McCord were: Robert M. Speer, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Financial Management and Comptroller), Susan J. Rabern, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Financial Management and Comptroller), and Rocardo A. Aguilera, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Financial Management and Comptroller).
In a joint statement the witnesses told the committee that audit readiness is a top priority for the Military Departments. The Army has been using results from its audits to prepare “corrective action plans to focus efforts and resources on remediating deficiencies.” Navy plans “emphasize sustainable, standardized, efficient business processes, improved controls over business processes, and consolidation of information technology (IT) systems.” The Air Force is working closely with auditors “to prioritize findings and recommendations from the audit and implement cost-effective corrective actions.”
The witnesses emphasized that it takes time for an audit infrastructure to be set in place and to “mature.” For example, it took Homeland Security 10 years to get an unmodified opinion on its financial statements for budget resources totaling $89 billion. DoD has about $1 trillion in budgetary resources.
Nevertheless, they stressed that DOD and the Military Departments remain committed to the goals and benefits from achieving clean financial audits.
Last week, the House passed the FY2017 Department of Defense (DoD) Appropriations bill (H.R. 5293),278-149. Forty three Democrats joined 235 Republicans voting for passage.
House Appropriations Committee chair Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) said the bill provides for the defense needs of the country by “funding those military needs that must be addressed now, planning and preparing for the future, and respecting the taxpayer by making commonsense budgeting decisions.”
The House bill would provide $517 billion for the DoD base budget (excluding military construction). The House followed the House-passed FY2017 Defense Authorization bill's plan for funding Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) by providing only $42.9 billion through April 2017. The president requested $58.6 billion to fund OCO for the entire year. In addition, the House would use $15.7 billion in OCO funding for base budget requirements, increasing total base budget funding to $533 billion.
The House action on OCO funding has drawn a veto threat from the White House. In a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) called the redirection of OCO funding to the base budget “dangerous and wasteful.” The SAP also complained that this funding approach gambles with warfighting funds and “risks the safety of our men and women fighting to keep America safe, [and] “undercuts stable planning and efficient use of taxpayer dollars.”
The House bill includes an additional $340 million to fund a 2.1 percent military pay raise (the president requested a 1,6 percent raise) that is authorized in the House-passed FY2017 Defense Authorization bill. House bill also would fund the higher active duty (+27,000) and guard and reserve (+25,000) strength levels that would be authorized by the House.
Procurement funding in the bill would buy 15 ships (including three Littoral Combat Ships), 74 F-35 aircraft, 16 F/A-18E/F planes, 72 UH-60 helicopters, 15 KC-46 tanker aircraft, and 123 Stryker upgrades.
With only a few weeks remaining before Congress adjourns for an extended recess for the party conventions, both House and Senate have passed only three FY2017 appropriations bills each. The House has passed the DoD, Legislative, and Military Construction/VA bills and the Senate has passed the Energy & Water, Transportation/HUD, and Military Construction/VA bills. The Military Construction/VA bill, having passed both chambers is now in conference to reconcile the differenced.
Six bills await floor action in the House (Agriculture, Commerce/Justice/Science, Energy & Water, Financial Services, Interior & Environment, and Transportation/HUD) while eight are ready for the floor in the Senate (Agriculture, Commerce/Justice/Science, DoD, Financial Services, Homeland Security, Interior & Environment, Labor/HHS/Education, Legislative).
The House full appropriations committee has not taken action on three bills (Homeland Security, Labor/HHS/Education, and State/Foreign Operations. In the Senate only the State/Foreign Operations bill has not been completed by the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The ASMC National President’s Award is presented to an individual within the defense financial management community who has demonstrated excellence in leadership and in contributions in defense financial management. This year’s ASMC President’s Award is presented to Ms. Marilyn M. Thomas, who currently serves as the Deputy Under Secretary (Management) and Deputy Chief Management Officer of the United States Air Force.
As DoD continues to adjust to new fiscal challenges, Ms. Thomas steered the financial management headquarters review, facilitating the Air Force’s plan to identify a 20% reduction in headquarters positions and funding though streamlining of operations and process improvement. The management headquarters improvement enabled the Air Force to apply savings to protect the Air Force’s top acquisition priorities. Additionally, Ms. Thomas facilitated a more adaptive, agile programming and budgeting process that closed the seams between resource programming and current year execution.
Formerly serving as the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Financial Management and Comptroller), she oversaw $110 billion in resources and provided oversight of budgeting, cost estimation, and financial operations in support of Air Force priorities. She served as President of ASMC for two years from July 2012 through June 2014. Ms. Thomas was recently selected as a 2015 Presidential Rank Award recipient.
This week the Senate passed the FY2017 Defense Authorization bill by a large majority.
The bill authorizes force levels, programs, and policies (including military pay raises) for Department of Defense (DoD) budgets and the programs and policies for the Department of Energy (DoE) nuclear weapons program. Appropriations bills provide actual funding.
Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) chair Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) praised the bipartisan support for the bill saying “I’m very proud that the Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 with an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 85-13.” Forty-eight Republicans, thirty-six Democrats, and one Independent voted for the bill.
The House passed its version of the defense authorization bill in May 277-147.
The Senate bill would authorize a total of $602 billion, including $543 billion for the FY2017 DoD base budget. The bill also would provide $59 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) costs in FY2017, the same amount requested by the president for OCO.
The House bill also authorizes $543 billion for DoD, but provides another $23.1 billion in OCO funding to be used for base budget requirements. The House bill authorizes only $36 billion for OCO through April 2017.
The Senate failed (56-42) to garner the 60 votes needed to approve an amendment by Sen. McCain that would have added another $18 billion to the Senate bill. A proposal by Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) to add $18 billion to nondefense budgets also failed.
The Senate bill would approve the president’s request for a 1.6 percent military pay raise, rather than the 2.1 percent military raise included in the House bill. The Senate also did not follow the House increases to the authorized active duty and reserve strength levels. Proposals to match the House bill's military pay raise and higher military end-strength levels failed on the Senate floor.
The Senate bill also differs fro the House bill in changes to TRICARE. The Senate would authorize three new TRICARE health plans—TRICARE Prime, TRICARE Choice, and TRICARE Supplemental, while the House bill provides two TRICARE options—TRICARE Prime and TRICARE Preferred.
The Senate bill would require the registration of women for the draft. The House Rules Committee did not allow House consideration of a narrowly approved (32-30) House Armed Services Committee proposal that supported draft registration for women.
The Senate did join the House in rejecting the administration's call for another Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round.
Sen. McCain emphasized the bill's support for DoD organization and acquisition reform, calling the bill “the most significant piece of defense reform legislation passed by the Senate in 30 years.”
The Senate bill would reset “the roles and missions of the senior officials in DoD, as well as their relationships with each other.” Legislation would limit the National Security Council (NSC) staff to 150, clarify the role of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS), and clarify the primary duties of the Combatant Commanders (COCOMs). The Senate would establish a Combatant Commanders Council (COCOMs, Chairman and Vice Chairman of the JCS, and the Secretary of Defense) to assist in the execution of strategy
The bill would lower the number of general and flag officers by 25 percent, reduce the number of authorized four-star billets from the current 41 to 27, cut the number of Senior Executive Service (SES) civilian employees by 25 percent, and reduce spending on contractors by 25 percent by January 2019 from a FY2016 baseline.
The Senate bill's acquisition reforms focus on accountability, new sources of innovation, and an improved acquisition workforce.
The bill would replace the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (AT&L) with an Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (R&E) and an Under Secretary of Defense of Management and Support and create a new Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition Policy and Oversight to set defense-wide acquisition and industrial base policy.
The bill would streamline the regulation of commercial items and off the-shelf commercial items and establish preferences for commercial services and fixed-price contracts.
The Senate would authorize more flexible hiring and compensation practices, improve the Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Fund, and establish competitively-selected senior military acquisition advisors in the Defense Acquisition Corps.
The White House, like it did with the House bill, issued a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) threatening a veto of the Senate bill as passed. The SAP expressed strong objections to the bill's organizational changes, rejection of another BRAC, prescription of contractual methods, and the restrictions regarding detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
House and Senate conferees will now have to adjudicate the differences in the two bills to try to achieve a bill the president will sign.
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced new initiatives intended to improve the officer promotion system and enhance the civilian recruiting and retention program.
Speaking to an all-hands meeting at the Pentagon, Carter cited the security challenges and the demographic, economic, and social changes facing the U.S. He said his job was “to make sure that amid all this change DoD continues to recruit, develop, and retain the most talented men and women America has to offer.”
Carter billed the new initiatives for the military promotion system as fixes to a rigid “one size fits all” system that works most of the time, but “most of the time isn’t good enough for the Force of the Future.” Carter said the current “up-or-out” policy can be too rigid and “can limit the ability of our services to achieve the right force mix they need.” Often the system inhibits officers from specializing or deviating from a career path even if such a move would benefit the service and the individual, he said.
Carter identified four changes to the Department Officer Personnel Management Act (DOPMA) to improve the effectiveness of the force by bringing the 100-year old system into the 21st century.
To incentivize the best performers, the secretaries of the Military Departments could adjust the so-called lineal numbers (based on seniority) of officers that are selected for promotion in order to recognize superior performance. Currently, when officers are selected for promotion, they are promoted in order of seniority based on when the officer was commissioned. Carter called this change a “key part of good talent management.”
Under another proposal, the Military Departments could approve an officer’s request to “opt out” of the promotions cycle to pursue opportunities to broaden their experience without hurting chance of promotion. This change would enhance retention objectives and bring new skills and ideas into the management pool, according to Carter.
To enhance the recruitment of experts in critical fields (e.g., cyber and scientific fields), civilians with such skills would be able to join at a mid-career level, as is the case for civilian doctors. This authority would “fill critical gaps in our force” and “make us more effective,” Carter said.
In order to be able to respond to future needs in critical career fields, the Military Departments would be allowed (if approved by the Secretary of Defense) “to waive select DOPMA constraints to very quickly build up expertise in a critical career field.” This authority will enable the services the flexibility to tailor their response to future capability needs within the current system, Carter said.
Carter also identified specific changes to civilian personnel management DoD is pursuing to “make sure our future civilian force is just as great as it is today.”
To improve the department’s ability to hire the “best and brightest” in colleges and universities, the department is requesting authority to directly hire students and recent college graduates into the DoD civilian workforce. This non-competitive authority would allow candidates to circumvent the current processes and be given a tentative job offer “on-the-spot.” Carter called this a “game changer” in civilian recruiting.
DoD would also establish a public-private talent exchange program. Under this program, DoD and innovative private sector companies would temporarily exchange employees for a minimum of three months and a maximum of four years. Carter said that this program could benefit both DoD and the private sector and will “help DoD stay on the cutting edge, and be more efficient and effective.”
To enhance employee retention, DoD is requesting the authority to provide six weeks of paid parental leave for civilian employees. Currently, military personnel receive paid parental leave. Cater said this authority would bring DoD’s parental leave policy for military and civilians in line and would be very effective in retaining experienced civilian employees.
Both the military and civilian personnel management initiatives require congressional approval of new legislative authorities. Carter said he would continue working with the House and Senate Armed Services committees to complete this work.
These new initiatives are the latest in a series of proposals to reform the rules and regulations on how DoD recruits, develops, and retains personnel for the future. Previous initiatives, or “Links” as Carter calls them, involved “building and expanding on-ramps and off-ramps for talent flow between DoD and the technology sector” and promoting retention by “expanding maternity and paternity leave, extending childcare hours on bases, and giving families some geographic flexibility;” In addition, Carter said DoD had opened all combat jobs to women, and was working with Congress to make joint duty requirements more flexible.
Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) approved FY2017 appropriations for the Coast Guard, which are included in the FY2017 Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill. The SAC approved the FY2017 Homeland Security Appropriations bill 30-0.
The SAC approved $8.7 billion in discretionary appropriations (to be appropriated by Congress) for the Coast Guard, $129 million more than the budget request. The bill also identifies $1.7 billion in Coast Guard mandatory spending for retired pay. The SAC bill includes in the base Coast Guard budget $162 million for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO).
Operating expenses totaling $7.1 billion are funded in the bill, $153 million higher than the request. The bill fully funds a 1.6 percent military pay raise, requested by the president. Coast Guard OCO operations costs ($162 million) that were requested in the Navy budget are provided directly to the Coast Guard budget.
The bill would increase the FY2017 request for acquisition, construction, and improvements by $120 million to $1.257 billion. The SAC would fund $95 million for long-lead time materials for the 10th National Security Cutter (NSC) and an additional $30 million for Structural Enhancement Dry-dock Availability for work on two NSCs. An additional $85 million will allow for the purchase of two more (total six) Fast Response Cutter (FRC) hulls. With $1 billion included in the SAC-approved FY2017 Department of Defense Appropriations bill, $133 million is cut from the president’s Coast Guard request for Polar Icebreaker Recapitalization Project, leaving about $18 million for management and support costs. Another $15 million in the bill would provide In-Service vessel sustainment. The bill would also add $22 million to the request for shore-side and waterfront planning for future operations in Kodiak.
The SAC would double the Coast Guard research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) request to $36.8 million. The bill would add $18 million to test the use of ultra-long endurance Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) in source and transit zones.
Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) approved the FY2017 Department of Defense Appropriations bill by a vote of 30-0.
SAC Chairman Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) said the bill “has broad bipartisan support” and “sustains a strong U.S. force structure, and it makes significant investments in readiness, shipbuilding programs, aircraft procurement, and missile defense.”
The SAC bill would provide $515.9 billion for the DoD base budget (excluding military construction), almost $2 billion less than the request, and $58.6 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), the same amount as requested. The House Appropriations Committee (HAC) approved its version of the bill last month.
Unlike the HAC bill the SAC funded OCO for the entire year (rather than through April 2017) and did not use OCO funding for base budget requirements. The HAC bill used $15.7 billion in OCO for unrequested base requirements. To provide additional funding for committee priorities and unfunded needs identified by the military services, the SAC made over 450 specific cuts totaling $15.1 billion.
The SAC bill would fund a 1.6 percent military pay raise as proposed by the president and recommended by the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC). The HAC bill would fund a 2.1 percent military pay raise as authorized in the House-passed FY2017 Defense Authorization bill.
The SAC would fund the Defense Health Program (DHP) at $34 billion (and includes over $900 million more for defense medical research.
The bill includes funds to buy 10 ships: two Virginia class submarines; three DDG-51 destroyers; three Littoral Combat ships (LCS); an LHA amphibious assault ship; and a Polar Icebreaker. The committee noted that the last U.S. icebreaker was funded in the FY1990 DoD Appropriation bill. The Obama administration has planned to start icebreaker production ion 2020, according to the committee But the SAC bill includes $1 billion in FY2017 for the first ship in the Polar Icebreaker Recapitalization Project due to “the strategic importance of polar operations to the nation’s future security.”
The SAC bill would make significant increases to the administration’s request for aircraft, including: 12 F-18’s; four F-35’s (including two vertical take-off F-35s for the Marine Corps); 15 Blackhawk and 28 Lakota helicopters for the Army; two Air Force C-130J’s; and two Marine Corps MV-22 helicopters.
The committee would also add $454 million to the request for Israeli missile defense programs, for a total of $601 million.
No announcement was made regarding the timing of full Senate consideration of the FY2017 DoD Appropriations bill.