September 25, 2012
Credit: Credit: DoD photo by Master Sgt. Ken Hammond, USAF
The U.S. Defense Department may have more flexibility to cope with what it has painted as a potentially devastating across-the-board spending cut, the department’s chief financial officer said Tuesday.
Robert Hale, the Pentagon’s comptroller, said he interpreted preliminary guidance from the White House to mean the Pentagon may dodge its worst fear: an indiscriminate lop of 9.4 percent from all of its more than 2,500 programs or projects.
He said the White House Office of Management and Budget’s instructions in a Sept. 14 report, would give the Pentagon latitude to make such cuts within each overall budget account, rather than program by program.
If so, this would let the Pentagon protect higher-priority arms programs, for instance, by cutting more elsewhere in its budget.
The ability to pick and choose program cuts to meet overall budget constraints “would give us more flexibility,” Hale said in a brief interview after speaking at a forum in suburban Arlington, Virginia, hosted by Government Executive magazine.
“But it’s a preliminary report so we’re not yet sure how about how it would be defined,” he said, referring to pending final instructions for carrying out the spending cuts.
The Defense Department has about 50 budget accounts, including such things as active Army operation and maintenance, Navy reserve operation and maintenance and Air Force Guard operation and maintenance.
Another example of a budget account is Army weapons and tracked vehicles.