Nominee expects few changes to fiscal 2010 budget request
President-elect Obama's choice for the no. 2 civilian slot at the Pentagon Thursday said he does not plan to make sweeping changes to the Defense Department's fiscal 2010 budget request, which has been drafted.
William Lynn told Senate Armed Services Committee at his confirmation hearing that reviewing the remainder of fiscal 2009 supplemental funding needed for warfare, as well as the fiscal 2010 request, would be among his first priorities upon assuming the post of deputy Defense secretary.
But while the incoming administration does not expect to send details of its fiscal 2010 budget to Capitol Hill until late March or April, there is little time to make significant changes.
"This is a problem common to all new administrations," Lynn declared in a written response to questions. "The review of the FY 2010 budget request will, of necessity, be limited in scope, addressing the key initiatives of the new administration such as ground forces end strength, quality of life programs, and selected acquisition programs."
Lynn, Raytheon's senior vice president for government operations, also expressed impatience with the slow pace of reform of the military's problem-plagued acquisition system. He pledged to have an "active reform agenda" for the department, including strategic planning, budget and oversight. "Acquisition reform is not an option," he told the panel. "It is an imperative."
Lynn did not provide specifics on how he viewed particular weapons systems, but stressed the importance of carefully balancing cost, schedule and performance goals for all programs. If confirmed, Lynn added that he would place a high priority on reviewing acquisition processes to improve stability, accountability and the effective execution of defense programs.
Meanwhile, Robert Hale, Obama's pick to become Pentagon comptroller, told the committee Thursday he hoped to wean the Defense Department off its reliance on supplemental spending. If confirmed, he said the military would need a supplemental for the remainder of fiscal 2009 and possibly in fiscal 2010. "In later budgets, we should be better able to minimize dependence on supplementals," he said in a written response to questions. At Thursday's hearing, which was friendly, the committee questioned Michele Flournoy and Jeh Johnson, Obama's choices, respectively, for undersecretary of Defense for policy and Pentagon general counsel.