No. 5. The DoD Budget Process: The Next Frontier of Acquisition Reform

In This Story

People Mentioned in This Story

Behind the flurry of defense management reform in the last half of the 2010s lies the desire for speed and agility. Tremendous change has come to policies on acquisition, contracting, requirements, and workforce. Remaining untouched is the next frontier of acquisition reform: the budgeting process. 

The landscape is starting to change. 

  • In May 2020, the Space Force released a report to Congress arguing that it's “most important” recommendation was to consolidate budget line items into capability portfolios. 
  • The FY 2021 budget request also featured the first use of a "colorless" appropriation for software programs. 
  • Impacting these efforts is the specter of the border wall reprogramming, causing Congressional appropriators to move away from budget flexibility. 

In this paper, author Eric Lofgren, who researches business, policy, regulatory, and other issues in government contracting, charts a course for the future of budgeting informed by the history of government's financial management. He argues that budget lines should be consolidated by mission-driven organizations, enabling senior leaders to exercise portfolio management. The new scheme should result in greater levels of transparency and accountability. 

Download the white paper.