White House, committee spar over acquisition workforce training funds

The Obama administration does not want Congress to cut funds for Defense Department acquisition employees' training.

The administration opposes a House committee’s proposal to reduce funding for the Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Fund, cutting it nearly in half compared to fiscal 2012’s appropriation.

The fund is a key tool for the Defense Department to alleviate some of the long-standing challenges associated with training the acquisition workforce. It also provides additional funds for the recruitment, training, and retention of acquisition personnel. DOD expects to use the fund's money to hire approximately 10,000 new acquisition personnel through fiscal 2015. Approximately $1.8 billion was allocated to the fund through February 2012, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report.

The House Appropriations Committee recommended $50.2 million for the fund in fiscal 2013, according to the Defense Department Appropriations Act (H.R. 5856).

In fiscal 2012, Congress gave the fund $106 million, and the president requested $274.2 million for 2013.

If Congress doesn’t provide the full request of $274 million, administration officials warn that DOD would have to collect from other budgets to account for the shortfall between the appropriation and the statutory minimum for the development fund.

“The reduction in the appropriation would put unnecessary stress on the operation and maintenance budget at a time when funding levels are already constrained,” administration officials wrote June 28 in a statement of administration policy regarding the spending bill.

The bill has not been passed by the House yet.

The Appropriations Committee said the president’s budget request would meet the statutory $944 million level, but defense representatives do not believe that DOD needs that amount of funding to achieve the fund’s goals next year. As a result, the committee doesn’t want to put so much appropriated money into the fund.

Congress’ conference report on the fiscal 2012 Consolidated Appropriations Act warned the funding would go down for the development fund because of unobligated balances that have sat in the fund for the past several years.

Fund managers told GAO though the delays in collecting and then distributing the development fund's money caused uncertainties. That sense of ambiguity, along with revisions on how officials would use the money, prevented large sums from being spent and instead carried over to the next fiscal year.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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