Senate appropriators seeking itemized justification for future AP funding, frustrated by Pentagon's inconsistencies

By Justin Katz / November 11, 2020 at 3:12 PM

Irritated with apparent inconsistencies year-over-year presented in the Pentagon's budget requests, a Senate panel is moving to require all three service acquisition executives provide much greater detail about the items they are seeking through advanced procurement funding.

The Defense Department's fiscal year 2021 budget request included AP funding that did not align with previous budget requests, according to an explanatory statement accompanying the Senate Appropriations Committee's annual defense spending legislation, which was released Tuesday.

The panel cited proposed buys for the CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter, the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, MQ-4 Triton unmanned aerial vehicle and "several shipbuilding programs."

"The budget request proposed to apply excess fiscal year 2020 AP appropriations to cover the balance of the fiscal year 2021 funding shortfall," according to the statement.

"The committee notes that this blurs the line between the purpose for AP funding and full funding of procurement items, which injects uncertainty into the industrial base, jeopardizes the stability of the program, and complicates oversight," the statement continues.

As a result, lawmakers would direct the Pentagon in future budget requests to provide detailed information about items requiring AP funding. Those requirements include a list of the items being procured and their associated product, item quantities, unit costs and a schedule for production.

Those justification materials would also have to include "an assessment of how much time and cost is saved by using advance procurement funding to buy the long lead items re-quested; and certification that the balance of the funds for end items is included in the budget submission," according to the panel's statement.

The Pentagon is seeking advanced procurement funding to procure materials and items that require longer lead times while maintaining the rest of a program's schedule.