The administration’s fiscal 2019 budget request for military construction does not provide sufficient investment to ensure current and future force readiness, according to the committee report accompanying the military construction-Veterans Affairs spending bill the Senate Appropriations Committee approved last week. “After years of deliberately ‘taking risk’ by underfunding known military construction requirements, when the department finally had the opportunity to take advantage of the significant resources provided under the 2018 budget agreement, the department once again chose to ignore its growing list of infrastructure and construction needs,” the committee stated. Lawmakers added that continuing to shortchange infrastructure investment “will yield disastrous results as facilities deteriorate and resources for repair or replacement are not available.”
The committee also highlighted the challenge for DOD of funding ongoing and upcoming platform beddown and facility upgrade projects at the same it plans to carry out several multi-billion dollar high-priority initiatives, including the Army’s $17 billion modernization of readiness centers across the country, the Navy’s 20-year, $21 billion shipyard infrastructure optimization plan, and the Air Force’s ground-based strategic deterrent facility modernization. “The committee is concerned that reversing years of underfunding while simultaneously trying to accommodate the initiatives needed to provide ready and resilient installations that enable a platform for global operations is not viable without additional investment,” the report states.
The committee directs the services to include in their FY 2020 budget requests an assessment of how the proposal ensures sufficient progress on initiatives and targeted investments exceeding $1 billion. The assessment also should include expected construction costs associated with new platform beddown by fiscal year, along with recommendations for better identifying future infrastructure requirements.