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Milcon Cut Proposed in Austere 2012 DOD Budget

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  • February 15, 2011
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Spending on military construction, family housing, BRAC and related programs would fall $2.6 billion, compared to current spending levels, under the fiscal 2012 budget request released Monday by the Pentagon. Much of the decline, $1.9 billion, is the result BRAC 2005 implementation concluding, but military construction for active and reserve components still would absorb a $485 million reduction under President Obama’s request.

The large drop-off in the request for BRAC 2005 — from the current spending level of $2.2 billion to $259 million — was expected with the military slated to finish carrying out the recommendations by Sept. 15. The FY 2012 funding primarily would go toward cleaning up closed bases. Spending on cleanup at sites closed under the first four rounds would decline $36 million to $324 million under the request.

Spending on military construction programs would drop from $12.6 to $12.1 billion in FY 2012, with funding for family housing programs falling from $1.8 billion to $1.7 billion.

When compared to the allocation in FY 2010, the last year with an enacted spending bill, the prospective drop in funding for milcon programs is more significant. Spending on military construction, family housing, BRAC and related programs in that year was $23.3 billion, $8.5 billion more than the $14.8 billion FY 2012 request. To be sure, BRAC 2005 spending would account for $7.2 billion of the decline over that period, under the president’s request.

Overall, the president’s request for the Pentagon would provide a small jump in 2012, from a current spending level of $526 billion to $553 billion. Starting in FY 2013, though, budget increases would become much stingier, climbing only 1.0 percent in that year, 0.5 percent in FY 2014, and remain almost flat over the next two years. (Editor’s note: For comparisons in this story, last week’s House proposal to provide funding for the remainder of FY 2011 is used as the current spending level.)

Funding for the Office of Economic Adjustment fares well under the 2012 proposal. The office would receive $81.8 million, compared to $50.8 million in the current year.          

The budget request would support Obama’s initiative announced last month to support military families, recommending $8.3 billion for child care and youth programs, community support activities, family support centers, spouse employment and DOD schools. The 2012 request includes $550 million to replace or modernize 15 schools.

What about 2011?
Defense Secretary Robert Gates devoted much of his press briefing on the budget request to the need for Congress to pass an FY 2011 spending bill for the department. DOD would need to cope with a $23 billion cut in 2011 spending — from the president’s $549 billion request made one year ago — if it is forced to continue operating under a continuing resolution for the remainder of the fiscal year.

The reduction would be magnified as it comes five months into the fiscal year, Gates said. As a result of policy changes that led to lower personnel costs and reduced activity stemming from the continuing resolution, the department could get by with $540 billion in 2011, he said.

DOD Comptroller Robert Hale highlighted the challenges posed when the military is forced to operate under a continuing resolution. About 50 major milcon projects have been delayed beyond their projected award dates, including a vehicle maintenance shop at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.; a maintenance hangar for unmanned air systems at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M.; training barracks at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; and an enlisted dormitory at McGuire AFB, N.J.

“These cause our mission to suffer,” Hale said.

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