Critical Waste Issues for Defense Authorization Conferees | Citizens Against Government Waste

Critical Waste Issues for Defense Authorization Conferees

The WasteWatcher

During the first week of December, senators and representatives will be meeting to hash out the final conference report on the fiscal year (FY) 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  The House and Senate versions of the bill contain provisions that are wasteful or will lead to mismanagement and inefficiency at the Department of Defense (DOD), including plans to purchase F-35 Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) beyond the amount requested by the Pentagon; increased funding for the Overseas Contingency Operations program when overseas forces are being drawn down; and, the elimination of a significant source of cost-savings, the position of Chief Management Office (CMO).  The conferees are considering whether to include the codification of the FedRAMP cloud services certification program into federal law, along with a “Buy American” provision related to printed circuit boards.

The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste wrote a letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees on October 14, 2020, asking  “the conferees to save the Pentagon CMO, eliminate funding for the OCO and additional JSFs, and strike language relating to the FedRAMP Act and ‘Buy American’ provisions.”   CCAGW also sent a letter to the chairmen and ranking members of four committees on October 29, 2020, to specifically object to the FedRAMP language.

The JSF program represents the best example of the DOD’s dysfunctional method of procurement.  The program has been in development for nearly 19 years and is nine years behind schedule.  Total acquisition costs now exceed $428 billion, nearly double the initial estimate of $233 billion.  Upon completion of the development phase, additional funding will be needed to retrofit the JSFs purchased via earmarks in FY 2021, driving up overall program costs.

Similarly, continuing to fund the Overseas Contingency Operations account makes little sense.  Were it considered to be a federal agency, the $70.7 billion provided for the OCO in FY 2020 would make it the fourth largest, dwarfing spending at all other agencies except the DOD, and the Departments of Health and Human Services and Veterans Affairs.  OCO spending has long outstripped the cost of supporting troops in the field, and that trend will only be exacerbated as the U.S. transitions out of Afghanistan.

Eliminating the CMO office after it reported savings of $22.3 billion between FYs 2018-2021 demonstrates the lack of commitment by members of Congress to truly reduce waste and mismanagement at the Pentagon.  The conferees should reject the provisions that terminate this position.

Codifying the current provisions of FedRAMP into law will lock in place rules and regulations that will quickly become outdated, stymie cloud innovation for the federal sector, and give small minority-owned businesses a competitive disadvantage when they cannot meet the costly application process and time to achieve an authorization to become certified and operate under FedRAMP.  Rather than codifying this cumbersome process into law, Congress should seek ways to streamline FedRAMP and allow changes to be made through administrative efforts.

CCAGW continues to urge the NDAA conferees asking them to reevaluate these provisions.  National security spending should always be effective and efficient rather than wasteful.