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Navy Secretary Says Budget Controls Wasted $4 Billion In Taxpayer Funds

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Jonah Bennett Contributor

Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer said Monday the problem of temporary, Congress-provided funds to the service has forced the Navy to burn $4 billion dollars of cash.

Spencer called for an end — at the U.S. Naval Institute’s Defense Forum Washington 2017 — to Congress’ practice of providing temporary funds in the form of continuing resolutions and keeping the Budget Control Act on the books, that introduces serious defense cuts.

The start-and-stop costs associated with temporary funds has forced the Navy to dump $4 billion dollars of taxpayer funds into a trash can, pour lighter fluid on the pile and burn it, according to Spencer.

“There’s the opportunity to lead,” Spencer said. “And the opportunity to address what has been the most harmful impediment to reaching our goal: the Budget Control Act and continuing resolutions we’ve seen—and will continue to be incredibly harmful unless we address this as soon as possible. [Continuing resolutions] cost the Department of the Navy roughly $4 billion dollar.”

“Since 2011, we have put $4 billion in a trash can, put lighter fluid on top of it and burned it,” he added.

With an extra $4 billion in hand, the Navy would be able to “buy a squadron of F-35s, two early class destroyers, 3,000 Harpoon missiles, 2,000 tactical Tomahawk missiles,” Spencer noted.

The $4 billion was totally lost because of inefficiencies introduced by continuing resolutions, according to Spencer.

It has become standard practice to introduce continuing resolutions to kick off the fiscal year, while Congress debates a longer term funding solution.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis has railed against using continuing resolutions because of the fundamental budget uncertainty introduced. The negative fiscal impacts of continuing resolutions take effect immediately because of the limited available funds, training and maintenance have to be scaled back, he noted.

David Norquist, the Pentagon’s comptroller, stated in September that readiness costs are “unrecoverable” under a continuing resolution.

“Under a CR, readiness and operational costs are unrecoverable,” Norquist said. “The longer a CR lasts, the more damage.”

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