Gilday: Navy 'will likely' request authority to spend money on Columbia during CR

By Justin Katz / March 11, 2020 at 12:27 PM

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday told lawmakers today his service may submit a legislative proposal that allows the Navy to spend money on select programs during a continuing resolution.

"We will likely be coming in with a legislative proposal that gives us . . . the flexibility to spend money in case there's a CR," Gilday told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee.

Under a continuing resolution, traditionally, the Pentagon may not spend money on new programs or above previously appropriated funding levels.

"So that in a program where we have to stay on schedule to get that [Columbia-class submarine] on patrol in 2030 . . . we make [the] best use of the money that we have," he continued.

The Navy in FY-21 is planning to buy its first Columbia-class submarine, the service's No. 1 acquisition priority and a program with little margin for schedule delays.

If the next fiscal year were to begin under a continuing resolution, the Navy would be barred from issuing contracts for Columbia, which will be considered a new start. In that event, the service would have to ask Congress for an anomaly, a waiver that grants similar authorities on a temporary and case-by-case basis.

Navy acquisition executive Hondo Geurts has previously said he is certain the service would request a waiver in FY-21 if a CR threatened to delay the first Columbia buy. Gilday today re-affirmed the Navy would do as much.

The CNO, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger testified today to the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee about the service's fiscal year 2021 budget request.

The comments follow remarks by Defense Secretary Mark Esper who said the Pentagon was considering a legislative proposal that would allow the Navy to reprogram any expired funding to the shipbuilding account.

"We think that could generate at least $1 billion a year or so that we could plunge back into shipbuilding," he told lawmakers last month.

The military regularly sends legislative proposals to lawmakers each year ahead of Congress crafting the annual defense policy bill. The Pentagon has not yet made public what proposals it submitted this year.