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Task Force on Unified Security Budget presents on FY10 spending and FY11 freeze March 3, 2010

Posted by Matthew Leatherman in Analysis.
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Yesterday marked the congressional roll-out of the FY10 Report of the Task Force on a Unified National Security BudgetOriginally released in November 2009, this is the sixth in a series of annual reports that:

  • Attempt to assess the trade-offs made between the Defense, State, and Homeland Security Departments.
  • Advocate for a single budget to make trade-offs among those Departments more explicit.

Shifting the “emphasis in U.S. security policy toward a different, less militarized approach” inspires the task force’s work.  Despite promising rhetoric from the Obama Administration in this regard, however, the task force concludes that, by “the metric of dollars and cents,” this year’s story is discouraging.

Task force members Lawrence Korb of the Center for American Progress, Miriam Pemberton of the Institute for Policy Studies, and William Johnstone of the Partnership for a Secure America presented at the congressional forum.  Korb began the discussion by speaking in favor a freeze in the defense budget and identifying procurement discipline as a means to do so.  (See Korb’s NYT op-ed for additional detail.)  Pemberton suggested that subjecting procurement to an independent commission similar to the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process may be a means for doing so.  Johnstone then applied the concept of fiscal discipline to DHS spending, urging participants to subject the DHS budget to exacting scrutiny despite its connection to national security.

Panelists’ comments on capping the defense budget at FY10 levels mirror a recommendation made by Dr. Gordon Adams in testimony offered last week before the Senate Budget Committee.  In that testimony, Adams critiques the lack of priority-setting and trade-offs in the Quadrennial Defense Review and suggests that a top line budget freeze would force DOD to answer those tough questions while, at the same time, helping to limit American debt.

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