OCO Too Short-Term

The Republican plan to add $90 billion to the Pentagon’s Fiscal 2016 overseas contingencies operations account as a means of addressing shortfalls caused by sequester is an expensive way to solve the problem, USAF officials told a Senate Armed Services panel March 19. “We prefer it in the base budget,” deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements Lt. Gen. James Holmes told the airland subcommittee. Air Force acquisition chief William LaPlante said the OCO suffers from a “year-to-year” spending profile, which weighs against long-term planning. “I can’t, in good conscience” start a JSTARS recapitalization program if there’s no assurance future monies will be available, said LaPlante. “We need some level of predictability,” he added. LaPlante offered the Space Fence as an example of how wasteful sequester-caused delays can be. The program was ready to go to source selection but was put on hold in 2013 due to sequester. “We didn’t want to start a program and then turn around and cancel it” for lack of funds, he said. After a budget deal was reached for Fiscal 2015, it went ahead, but the delay “cost us $70 million more” than was budgeted. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) summarized the response as “okay, so … not good, but better than nothing.” To which LaPlante agreed. (Holmes/LaPlante prepared testimony)