Senate outlines $6.4B in cuts to defense spending

The Senate Armed Services Committee is calling for $6.4 billion in defense spending cuts as it pushes forward its proposed DOD authorization for full Senate consideration.

The Senate Armed Services Committee has identified $6.4 billion in savings in its markup of the fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill, including major cuts to the acquisition of contract services and military construction and family housing, according to a press release highlighting parts of the proposed legislation.

The bill approves $682.5 billion for national defense programs, nearly $6 billion less than what the Defense Department originally requested for its base budget and $537 million less than what was requested for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding.

“In this time of fiscal problems for our nation, I am pleased that we were able to support our troops and their families while finding savings of more than $6 billion,” Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement released June 17.

Among some of the most high-profile funding cuts is a $1.1 billion slash in funding to operations and maintenance accounts for the acquisition of contracted services. The cut is planned to be carried out by freezing contract service spending at fiscal 2010 levels —  compared to the freeze on the civilian employee workforce in the Senate’s press release —  and by instituting improvements to contracting processes.

In another swipe at Defense Department business processes, the bill introduces a $230 million reduction in spending on DOD business systems, “to be achieved by aggressively implementing a new approval requirement for expenditures on such systems and eliminating funding to maintain business systems that are obsolete, no longer needed, or not a part of the objective business systems architecture of the Department.”

The Senate bill also cuts $684 million in “excess unobligated balances to encourage better stewardship of taxpayer dollars, based on analysis from GAO.”

The legislation outlines billions in spending on major defense programs, including nearly $1 billion from various Air Force and Naval aviation programs.

The Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (EMARSS) stands to lose $452 million in funding; $192 million will be deleted from the Army’s Brigade Combat Team (BCT) Modernization Effort due to the termination of the Early Infantry BCT program. The Navy’s Mobile User Objective Satellite program will lose $205 million of its requested $282 million due to program delays, and $130 million will be slashed from the military intelligence program.

The behind-schedule Joint Tactical Radio System program also will see a $200 million reduction in funding from its requested $776 million.

The Air Force will lose a combined $269 million in “unjustified growth” in operations and maintenance funding for administration and other servicewide activities. Similarly, the Army faces a $10 million loss in funding to “unjustified growth” in joint DOD support and strategic communications.

Some key programs will see an uptick in spending. An additional $83 million beyond the requested $12.25 billion will go toward science and technology activities within Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation. Cybersecurity is also receiving a boost, with $20 million allotted for building capabilities to detect cyber vulnerabilities within DOD network layers and an increase of $20 million to build on cybersecurity pilot activities mandated in the fiscal 2011 National Defense Authorization Act.

Other notable provisions in the highlights of the committee's markup include a call for an independent study of the availability of DOD personnel for cyberspace operations, as well as a requirement that DOD develop and implement protections against WikiLeaks-type insider threats.

The Armed Services Committee's version of the bill, which has not been released to the public, will next move forward for full Senate consideration.