JED - October 2012 - (Page 20)
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ANALYSIS: BUDGET UNCERTAINTY DOMINATES CAPITOL HILL
The US Congress adjourned late last month, leaving its defense policy bill and defense spending bill unfinished. In what has proven to be a very turbulent year in Washington, both defense bills seem to be losing their significance in the face of pending across-the-board defense budget cuts of around 9.4 percent (of 2012 levels) that could be automatically imposed on January 2.
The main reason for the slow pace of Congressional defense legislation this year has been the large pending cut known as sequestration, which has overshadowed defense funding debates on Capitol Hill. The White House’s Office of Management and Budget released its report on September 14 explaining how sequestration cuts, mandated by last year’s Budget Control Act, would be implemented across the government. The DOD would suffer a 9.4 percent reduction based on FY2012 spending levels. The report indicated that $15.3 billion would be taken from DOD procurement programs and $7.9 billion would be cut from research and development. It is not clear how the DOD would prioritize those cuts within the various funding lines, but it is certain to affect most EW and SIGINT programs. The DOD would need to renegotiate many of its existing contracts with suppliers and would risk losing much of the savings embedded in its multi-year procurement contracts. Congress is frustrated by the lack of insight the DOD has provided regarding specific program cuts. But, the DOD has repeatedly given guidance to its workers that they should not plan for the sequestration cuts until they begin to take effect on January 2. It has also asked defense companies to avoid sending out warning notices to employees about potential layoffs beginning on January 2.
FY2013 National Defense Authorization Act
The FY2013 National Defense Authorization Bill, which sets defense policy and soldier pay, passed the House in May. The Senate Armed Services Committee passed its version of the Bill on May 24, and it has been awaiting a floor debate and vote in the Senate since then. The Senate may debate the defense authorization bill and vote on it during the brief “lame duck” session after the November 6 election. But the Senate must complete a long list of other important legislation in that time. While the defense authorization bill does not directly fund any procurement programs, it provides important guidance to the DOD. Several EW and SIGINT programs are addressed in the respective House and Senate versions of the bill. If the Senate passes the bill, the House and Senate will iron out differences in their respective bills during a conference session and then send it to the President. Because this bill sets defense policy and not spending levels, it is usually less contentious than the defense appropriations bill. Congress usually passes it before the end of the fiscal year.
The Journal of Electronic Defense | October 2012
The uncertainty of exactly how the DOD will implement the cuts with regard to specific programs is the main concern at the moment. The DOD isn’t saying much, and this leaves many, if not all, procurement and R&D programs at risk. The potential impact on EW programs could be disproportionately harsh, as most program advocacy depends on senior military and civilian leaders that typically do not have EW backgrounds and who do not understand EW in a strategic context. EW programs suffered disproportionately during defense cuts in the 1990s, and today’s programs remain at risk for the same reasons: the lack of senior EW leadership, poor understanding within the broader DOD, the lack of EW in most training exercises and a shrinking corps of EW professionals (except for the Army) in most services. Even if sequestration is rescinded as a mechanism, the DOD’s budget will remain under significant pressure because well-organized factions in both parties expect defense spending to be a significant part of the government’s overall debt reduction plan. – J. Knowles a
FY2013 Defense Appropriations
While the defense authorization bill has stalled in the Senate, FY2013 defense spending was boosted in a governmentwide “continuing appropriations resolution” that will keep the government funded through March 27. The bill, signed by the President on September 28, funds the DOD at an annual level of $519.9 billion, which is more than the FY2012 base level ($516.8 billion), the House version of the bill ($518.1 billion) or the Senate version of the bill ($511.2 billion) provide. As with the defense authorization bills, the House and Senate appropriations bills included some differences in EW and SIGINT spending. It is not clear how the DOD will handle those differences, which may have been largely smoothed over by the higher spending level.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of JED - October 2012
The View From Here
From the President
Pacing the Anti-Ship Missile Threat
Cognition: EW Gets Brainy
Index of Advertisers
JED Quick Look
JED - October 2012