Army freezes spending until supplemental is passed

A memo sent to senior Army officials last Friday mandates drastic measures to halt spending in all activities related to the Operations and Maintenance, Army (OMA) appropriation. The document cites the stalled Emergency Supplemental bill as the reason that OMA has been thrown into crisis mode.

“Although we anticipate that Congress will finish the bill in June, we need to take action now to control spending in the OMA appropriation and stay within the law… This will enable us to maintain the solvency of Army accounts pending the receipt of the supplemental,” the memo states.

The guidance, penned by Vice Chief of Staff Army General Richard Cody, sets a timeline to progressively restrict spending throughout the month of June.

As of May 26, 2006, holders of OMA funds were directed to cease ordering non-critical spare parts or supplies, unless the unit is deployed or soon to be deployed. They were asked to postpone or cancel all non-essential travel, training and conferences. They also were ordered to stop shipments of goods to all forces or units, unless deployed or soon to be deployed.

As of June 6, all civilian hiring actions are on hold and all summer hires are postponed until the supplemental is received.

As of June 15, all temporary civilian employees who are performing OMA-funded work are released, to include depot operations. All contract awards and new task orders on existing contracts are frozen, and the use of government purchase cards is suspended.

As of June 26, all service contract employees are released, including recruiters. Minimum numbers of mission-essential personnel can be retained.

The directive includes holders of Global War on Terror funds, but it states that critical support must continue for ongoing activities and readiness related to Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

"The top priority of the U.S. Army is to support the Global War on Terror, while remaining committed to the well being of soldiers and their families, and to do everything possible to continue providing vital services," said an Army spokesman regarding the memo.

Those measures are in addition to an approved reprogramming action that will move $1.4 billion into OMA. Operations and Maintenance for the Army was budgeted $24.9 billion dollars for fiscal year 2006, according to the National Defense Authorization Act. This amount is less than the $26.1 billion authorized in fiscal year 2005.

The Army expects an overall $36 billion appropriation in additional resources from the impending supplemental, the memo states.

The effects of the edict are already being felt around the defense community. For example, the Army IT Conference, scheduled to be held June 5-8 in Orlando, Fla., was suddenly canceled earlier today.

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