WASHINGTON – U.S. Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and Tom McClintock (CA-05) and U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Angus King (I-ME), both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Mike Lee (R-UT), and Mike Braun (R-IN) sent a bipartisan letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, calling on the Department of Defense (DoD) to rein in DoD’s use of wasteful “unfunded priorities” lists that help DoD increase spending beyond its core priorities.
“The statutory requirements for the military services, combatant commands, and other Department of Defense components to produce annual ‘unfunded priorities’ wish lists have become wasteful and inefficient tools that increase spending beyond DoD’s core priorities,” wrote the lawmakers. “We are increasingly concerned that budget gamesmanship is leading to the placement of critical programs in ‘unfunded priorities’ lists, rather than the Department’s initial budget which should be accurately reflecting our true national security priorities.”
DoD’s initial wish list last year requested more than $24 billion on top of the Department’s $773 billion budget request, and in November, DoD submitted a second request for an additional $25 billion. The lawmakers expressed concerns that DoD’s abuse of these lists undermines transparency in the budget process since they are not required to disclose the multi-year impact of funding additional programs. The lawmakers are calling on Secretary Austin to use his authority to curtail this wasteful practice, noting that former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates reduced the budget impact of these lists by nearly 90 percent.
The full text of the letter can be found here.