Pentagon budget planning ‘out of sync’ with operational needs

The Defense Department's planning, programming, budget and execution system is too slow and inflexible to adequately support operations and makes it unnecessarily difficult for the military services "to adjust resources in a volatile world of unpredictable new threats," according to a new survey of managers.

In addition, Defense finance professionals deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan said they need more help from their colleagues back home to better support troops on the battlefield.

The use of supplemental funding for overseas contingency operations since 2001 also has complicated matters for managers, because "such funds were not always calculated using full life-cycle costs, leaving a legacy of unfunded operations and maintenance resource demands, which will plague defense budgets for years to come," the questionnaire found.

Those are just some of the findings of a survey of 1,014 civilian and uniformed Defense financial managers the American Society of Military Comptrollers conducted and the Alexandria, Va.-based consulting firm Grant Thornton LLP sponsored. It is the eighth such annual survey since 2003.

According to respondents, the system for developing five-year budget plans, known as PPBE, is too rigid to meet rapid changes in battlefield needs. One executive interviewed for the survey said, "PPBE takes 18 to 24 months, while the warfighter needs 18 to 24 days' reaction time -- and sometimes even a few hours. We need more flexibility to support the warfighter."

Another respondent said, "[PPBE] consumes a tremendous amount of man-years to complete, and then in the end it always comes down to critical, last-minute decisions made by a handful of people to make it balance. Even then, there is always a lot of broken glass that is left up to the execution year financial managers to fix."

Survey respondents said the financial management workforce needs to be rebalanced to use fewer contractors and more government employees, but that first, the cumbersome civilian personnel hiring system must be addressed.

Respondents included personnel from all military branches, including the Coast Guard, but the bulk of them were from the Army (37 percent), the Air Force (34 percent) and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (12 percent). The survey also included interviews with 26 executives: 11 Navy, seven Army, four Defense, three Marine Corps and one Air Force.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.