In recent weeks, the Overseas Contingency Operations budget has received plenty of attention and criticism for its use as an off-budget “slush fund.”
But in reality, it’s probably more helpful to think of OCO as a series of slush funds. The more we find out about it, the more problems become apparent.
Roll Call reports on some unsettling facts that Taxpayers for Common Sense have uncovered.
The equipment for America’s National Guard and Reserve is increasingly funded through an account that contains money not requested by the president, not capped by the budget law and not subject to much open oversight, according to assessments by CQ and the government spending monitors at Taxpayers for Common Sense.
The National Guard and Reserve Component Equipment Account has been around since 1981. But it has grown significantly in recent years—ever since it was moved to the war budget, the size of which is not restricted by the budget control law. Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Guard and Reserve equipment fund has reaped more than $10 billion that was not part of any budget request.
Just a few years ago, Congress generally added a couple of hundred million dollars annually to the account. But each year since fiscal 2012, when caps on the Pentagon’s non-war budgets were instituted, the off-budget fund for the Guard has swelled to $1 billion or more in annual appropriations. . .
To Stephen Ellis, vice president for Taxpayers for Common Sense, a group that monitors federal spending and that has closely tracked the Guard fund, it is a “backdoor” and “unregulated” way to secure funds from Congress.
“I’m sure the Guard can use some of this equipment,” he says. “But in reality it has become little more than a place for lawmakers to stuff cash for a laundry list of parochial projects that don’t make the budget grade.”
Read the full report here.
Few would argue against giving our military the proper equipment and resources it needs. But all responsible spending advocates should also recognize the need to allocate that money honestly and appropriately.
Quietly shuffling funds into a secret account is neither.