By Scott Maucione
The Defense Department is expected this summer to release guidance on how to transition supplemental war funding into the base defense budget, according to a May 30 DOD letter to the Government Accountability Office.
Congress approves supplemental funding for overseas contingency operations each year for military activities. Lawmakers appropriated almost $80 billion in OCO funding in fiscal year 2014. DOD has not yet sent its FY-15 OCO budget request to Congress and does not know when it will be submitted, according to a DOD spokesman.
DOD has told GAO that the transition of funding from OCO accounts to the base budget will be a multiyear process and that cannot be accomplished “as a single point-in-time event due to uncertainty over the evolution of threats in the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility” and the impact of sequestration, according to the DOD letter, which was included in a June 9 GAO report on CENTCOM.
Guidance on how the funding process will work is expected by the end of July, the DOD letter notes.
CENTCOM has been one of the biggest recipients of OCO spending. However, with the impending drawdown of forces and equipment in Afghanistan, OCO spending is expected to decrease, according to the June 9 GAO report.
CENTCOM has been using OCO money for enduring to fund its operations. GAO recommends that such funding should be placed in the defense budget.
“Of the $793 million in total headquarters costs for CENTCOM, its Navy and Marine Corps service component commands, and its theater special operations command for fiscal year 2013, about 76 percent, or $600 million, was funded using overseas contingency operations appropriations,” the report states.
GAO recommends that DOD develop guidance on transitioning enduring activities that have been funded with OCO appropriations to the defense budget.