Yesterday, the Project On Government Oversight sent a letter to Congress with our picks for the most important provisions that should be included in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (NDAA, H.R. 4310 and S. 3254). Even though election season is in full swing and Congress has passed very little legislation as of late, the NDAA has become something of a must-pass bill and is one of the few bills that’s highly likely to reach the President’s desk for signature this year. The House passed H.R. 4310 and the Senate Armed Services Committee passed S. 3254 in May. Now Hill staffers are in discussions about how to reconcile the two versions during the lame duck session.
Some of POGO’s recommendations center on reining in wasteful Pentagon spending by cutting unnecessary weapons systems and nuclear programs. (Many of these are drawn from Spending Even Less, Spending Even Smarter in which we and Taxpayers for Common Sense identified over $600 billion in defense budget savings.) Of course, several of the measures we champion would enhance oversight and accountability to taxpayers. These range from strengthening whistleblower protections to increasing contractor accountability to improving information about how the Pentagon spends taxpayer dollars.
POGO is also urging Senate leadership to allow adequate time for debate and amendments to the NDAA on the Senate Floor. In addition, the NDAA should be reconciled by an open, transparent conference committee with all proceedings webcast live for the public. A bill of this magnitude, authorizing over $600 billion taxpayer dollars, with such important consequences for our national security and economy should not be rushed through committee or passed behind closed doors.
POGO’s recommendations are listed below. You can also read the letter we sent to HASC and SASC for the details.
POGO’s Picks for the NDAA
Wasteful Spending in the Pentagon Budget
- Support more accountability on the littoral combat ship (LCS)
Government Contracting Accountability
- Support the anti-trafficking in government contracting provision
- Reduce contractor employee compensation caps
- Don’t allow the “commercial” item misnomer to bilk taxpayers
- Increase accountability in wartime contracting
Wasteful Spending on Nuclear Weapons Programs
There are also several issues we flag that are not yet adequately addressed in either bill, but ought to be because of significant events or information that has emerged since Congress last acted on the NDAA:
- Freeze the Pentagon budget at current levels
- Restore whistleblower and merit system protections for employees labeled “sensitive”
- Eliminate unrequested funding for the M1 tank
- Review and upgrade Pentagon service contract spending
- Cancel the CMRR-Nuclear Facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory
- Cancel the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) at Y-12 National Security Complex
We will keep you informed on how the NDAA pans out. Check back here for updates.
Suzie Dershowitz is a public policy fellow with the Project On Government Oversight.Follow @suziedershowitz