Pentagon Loses Spending Flexibility

The Defense Department lost flexibility to move money into higher priority activities under the recently enacted budget continuing resolution that ended the federal government’s partial shutdown. While the new CR flows money into the Pentagon’s coffers once again until mid-January, it prevents these types of shifts, reported Stars and Stripes on Oct. 20. The previous CR, which expired at the end of September, did allow for some transfers of funds across accounts to help counter the effects of budget sequestration’s across-the-board spending cuts. “We have very little flexibility under the [new] continuing resolution,” said DOD Comptroller Robert Hale during an Oct. 17 press briefing at the Pentagon. “We can’t move between those accounts at all . . . so for a while, we kind of have to hold our breath and try to look to the future and be as conservative as we can,” he said. The Senate Republican leadership intends to keep pushing to give the Pentagon this flexibility under the CR, according to the newspaper. Meanwhile, senior Democratic lawmakers are reportedly more focused on repealing sequestration, than on modifying the CR. (Hagel-Hale transcript) (See also Partial Government Shutdown Cost More than Half Billion Dollars.)