Air Force budget would save on IT, other areas

Although the Air Force's budget is smaller for fiscal 2012, savings gained through efficiency measures will be applied to readiness and modernization, official says.

Despite a planned decrease in funding for fiscal 2012, the Air Force plans to launch new acquisition programs and build intelligence capabilities with its requested $166.3 billion budget, and will do so through efficiency savings in IT and other areas, an official said at a Pentagon briefing Feb. 14.

“Our secretary and chiefs’ priorities are very clear. Modernize our air, space and cyberspace inventories, organizations and training. Recapture acquisition excellence. We are enabling these priorities by finding efficiencies in overhead and shifting it to warfighting readiness programs,” Maj. Gen. Alfred Flowers, Air Force deputy assistant secretary for budget, said in a briefing on the service's fiscal 2012 budget.

Flowers said the Air Force had identified $33.3 billion in efficiencies over the next five years – more than its targeted $28 billion – $3.4 billion of which would come from the fiscal 2012 budget and will go toward force readiness and modernization.

Of the fiscal 2012 efficiencies, $1.9 billion would come from operations and maintenance, including consolidation efforts in IT and communications, Flowers said.

“We began an effort at reducing IT, the cost of communications infrastructure, by 25 percent, with a small investment in [fiscal 2012], but the efficiencies we [will] start to realize in 2013, through some consolidations of storage, network processes and network consolidations,” Flowers said.

The service is also saving money by reforming its acquisition and procurement policies, according to Flowers, including by making some large purchases in blocks. One such block is for satellites, and the service is looking at block procurement of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles, he said.

“Innovative acquisition enables investment in critical mission areas,” Flowers said.

According to budget documents and Flowers, the Air Force will make modest increases in spending on research, development, test and evaluation, with $19 billion requested for fiscal 2012, up from $18.2 billion in 2011. Those funds would mostly be for new aircraft, including a nuclear-capable bomber that would have the option of being manned or unmanned, as well as development of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities that could be integrated into existing aircraft and platforms.

Though procurement funding decreased by $1.7 billion for 2012, to $22.5 billion, the Air Force has budgeted for the procurement of ISR-enabled capabilities, including 48 MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles.

Other unspecified intelligence programs will receive a $500 million funding increase for fiscal 2012, according to Air Force budget documents.

The Air Force’s budget is $4.5 billion less than the $170.8 billion requested for fiscal 2011; Flowers attributed that to a $4.4 billion reduction in overseas contingency operations spending.

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