House committee approves $459.6B for Defense

Statement on the FY-08 defense apropriations bill (.pdf)

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The House Appropriations Committee today approved a fiscal 2008 Defense base budget of $459.6 billion. The committee’s bill would cut $406 million from the Pentagon’s request for the Army’s Future Combat Systems, and it includes language aimed at tightening oversight of the Pentagon’s contractors.

According to a July 25 committee statement, the bill would turn around what lawmakers say is a decrease in contractor oversight in the face of a rapid increase in Defense service contracts.

The bill would provide $21 million for the temporary assignment of 600 General Services Administration contract specialists to help their Defense Department colleagues oversee contracts. The measure also would impose a 5 percent reduction on contracted services across DOD in anticipation of savings from improved management and oversight, according to the committee statement.

The bill also would give more money to DOD organizations in charge of overseeing contracts the Pentagon requested. The Defense Contract Audit Agency would receive $12 million more, the Defense Contract Management Agency would get $17 million more, and the DOD Inspector General would receive an additional $24 million.

Lawmakers also want DOD to craft a report on its acquisition workforce needs and a strategy to recruit and retain acquisition specialists.

Finally, the bill would put on hold 10 percent of all operation and maintenance funds provided in the legislation until Pentagon officials submit a report on contracting that was mandated in the fiscal year 2007 Iraq supplemental legislation. The appropriators’ bill also would restrict payment of award fees to Defense contractors that failed to meet contractual requirements.

As for FCS, the committee approved $3.2 billion for the program, arguing the White House request of $3.7 billion was “in excess of what was needed to keep the program on a reasonable development schedule.”

Committee spokeswoman Kirstin Brost said today she had no information about when the full House will begin debate on the panel’s bill.

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