Still Freezing

By Sebastian Sprenger / June 18, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Kenneth Baer, the Office of Management and Budget's associate director for communications and strategic planning, today corrected information given to us previously by one of his subordinates about the Pentagon's fiscal year 2011 budget plan.

We asked OMB's public affairs folks last Friday whether the Defense Department is exempt from having to prepare a budget estimate assuming a) a freeze at FY-10 levels, and b) a 5 percent cut to the FY-11 figure included in the FY-10 outyear tables.

A June 11 memo from OMB Director Peter Orszag suggested some agencies are not affected by the requirement.

(We posed the same question in an e-mail to DOD spokesman Geoff Morrell, but never heard back.)

An OMB spokeswoman, who asked to remain anonymous, sent us an e-mail late Friday replying simply "Yes" to our question.

Turns out that was only half true.

"DoD has been exempted from considering a 5% cut to the FY-11 budget figure listed in the outyear tables accompanying the FY-10 request," Baer told us today. "However, DoD has not been exempted from the nominal freeze alternative," he added.

The Pentagon's budget submission, including the "freeze" alternative, is due to OMB by Sept. 14.

So, how would the two different scenarios compare anyway, you ask?

"((A)) freeze would be higher than a 5% cut, in principle," Gordon Adams, a former OMB official, tells us. "The question is a freeze with or without inflation. Either way, it is below what I am sure DOD wants to come back with in the fall," he wrote in an e-mail.

Our updated story is here.