The Pentagon Budget and CBO Analyses

August 6, 2009

The Department of Defenses (DoDs) proposed budget for fiscal year 2010 includes a number of significant changes in planned military programs. Many of the issues addressed in the budget have been apparent for some time to analysts in CBOs National Security Division. (J. Michael Gilmoreled this divisionfrom 2001 until earlier this year; Matthew S. Goldberg is CBOs Acting Assistant Director for National Security.) Indeed, many of the programmatic changes just proposed have been examined by CBO in recent publications, including:

Here are some examples of relevant CBO analysis:

  • Based on the five-year plan that accompanied last years budget request, DoD was planning to expand the active Army from 42 combat brigades to 48 combat brigades by 2011. In a budget option that has long been under formulation (Option #050-1, page 6), CBO noted that the Army wouldprobably be unable to identify 23,000 additional soldiers (beyond those already identified) to fully populate six new brigadesunder the current cap on total Army personnel. One option analyzed by CBO would explicitly relax the cap and add 23,000 soldiers to the force, at a total cost of about $16 billion over the next five years.
  • The Army has been developing its Future Combat System (FCS) program which would encompass eight new models of manned combat vehicles as well as new unmanned aerial and ground vehicles, sensors, and munitions. All of these components would be linked by advanced communications networks into an integrated combat system. Starting with a report released in August 2006, CBO has evaluated several alternatives to the FCS program that would forgo the development of new combat vehicles and instead spin out FCS improvements in communications and other systems to upgrades of existing tanks and fighting vehicles. Most recently, CBO estimated in a budget option that these changes to the FCS program could save the Army roughly $5 billion in outlays over the next ten years (Option #050-4, page 10).
  • CBO evaluated DoDs practice of hiring contractors to provide decision-makers with analyses and various other support activitiesso-called contract advisory and assistance services. CBO analyzed an alternative that, in conjunction with "spinning out" the FCS program and curtailing or cancelling selected other weapon-system procurements, would reduce the volume of advisory and assistance services by 20 percent. Along somewhat similar lines, Secretary Gates announced a plan to reduce the number of support service contractors from the current 39 percent of DoDs total workforce to the pre-2001 level of 26 percent and replace them with full-time government employees.