Shifting Funding:

The Defense Department has deviated from the long-standing policy that requires it to fully fund weapons in the year in which they are bought, prompting the Congressional Research Service to issue a new report laying out pros and cons. Although CRS notes that DOD’s use of other funding profiles in recent years centered on purchase of Navy ships, other deviations have involved aircraft and satellites. What’s the beef? CRS says such use of “non-conforming” funding approaches “could limit and complicate Congress’s oversight of DOD procurement programs.” At the very least, says CRS, Congress would “require different approaches” to exercise its control of the purse. Among examples cited in the report are USAF’s failed lease-buy arrangement for tanker aircraft, incremental funding for the F-22, and, in the 2008 budget request, a bid to use incremental funding for large satellites bought in small quantities. CRS proffers six options that range from Congress letting such approaches slide to approving a non-conforming approach for a specific program but expressing support for the full-funding policy to rejecting such moves outright. A key downside: Approving incremental funding reduces the flexibility of future Congresses. A key upside: Incremental could “permit Congress to stop throwing good money after bad.”