DoD Asks Congress for Relief from Reprogramming Caps

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The Pentagon wants the U.S. Congress to give it more freedom to transfer money between accounts as it grapples with the fallout from federal spending cuts.

Under current law, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) can ask lawmakers for permission to shift up to $7.5 billion within its budget accounts in 2013.

“We would like to see those limits changed,” Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said when asked about the so-called reprogramming caps during an event April 7 at the National Press Club in Washington.

Pentagon budget officials are preparing a $7 billion-plus reprogramming action that will request funding transfers to address shortfalls in warfighting operations and maintenance accounts, know as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) budget.

“Most immediately … we need reprogramming relief from Congress for fiscal year 2013 in order to shift money to meet our highest priorities,” Carter said.

Sequestration cut about $37 billion from the Pentagon’s 2013 budget. Of that, about $7 billion was cut from OCO accounts.

While the reprogramming will address shortfalls in the war budget, sequestration has taken its toll on operations and maintenance accounts. The funding shortfalls have prompted the Pentagon to curtail training across the military services.

At the same time, Carter said DoD is “preferentially protecting to the extent possible” multiyear procurement contracts.

In an interview the week of April 29, Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale said sequestration cuts will reduce DoD weapon purchases and delay research and development, test and evaluation programs.

“You’re going to see cuts in unit procurement,” Hale said on May 2. “They won’t be huge, but they’ll be noticeable.”