Military budgeting experts said today on Capitol Hill that the Defense Department (DoD) needs to tighten up on its budget procedures including the way the Pentagon measures and reports readiness, and improving estimations in annual budget requests.

Speaking today during a House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee hearing on future defense spending, Elizabeth Field, Director of Defense Capabilities and Management at the Government Accountability Office (GAO), said that DoD must improve its overall budgeting of funds, continue efforts to reduce improper payments, and pay attention to refining departmentwide business reform efforts.

“Each year, DoD allows billions of dollars appropriated by Congress to expire and a lot of this funding ends up being cancelled,” said Field. “Between fiscal year 2013 and 2018, DoD canceled more than $81 billion – returning those funds to the general treasury.”

She added that rate of unspent funding “indicates both that DoD needs to better estimate its annual budget requirements and ensure that it has better systems in place to use the funds it receives, consistent with congressional direction.”

Todd Harrison, Director of Defense Budget Analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, offered that DoD should focus on three priority areas going forward, including:

  1. Improving the way the agency measures and reports readiness;
  2. Conduct a strategic roles and missions review; and
  3. Identify and build consensus around the “crown jewels of the future force.”

“One of the key enablers needed to prevail in conflict over the next five to 10 years, is the ability to share data fluidly across forces to provide a more complete picture of the battlespace,” said Harrison.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.