Congress is set to boost the Defense Department's budget by $165 billion over the next two fiscal years, but the military has to show it is wisely spending taxpayer dollars when it acquires new weapon systems, according to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX).
"We have begun to reverse the decline in funding -- now DOD and the services have to deliver results," he said today at the opening of an acquisition reform hearing featuring all three service secretaries.
Thornberry noted that Congress has passed legislation in recent years to give the military services more direct oversight of their acquisition programs.
"We must reform as we rebuild," he said. "We must be prepared across the full spectrum of modern warfare -- from nuclear deterrence to the kind of political and information campaigns we will discuss at greater length in our hearing tomorrow. And we must measure success by output and results rather than inputs and process."
Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), the committee's ranking Democrat, told the secretaries they need to ensure DOD's money was spent wisely because it is unlikely the defense budget will continue grow at the current rate given the national debt and continued existence of the 2011 Budget Control Act.
"That money is very quickly going to be gone," he said. "You never know, but the odds are this is the largest the defense budget is going to be for probably about the next decade."
Meanwhile, Congress is in the midst of final negotiations over an FY-18 omnibus spending bill that must be passed before the government shuts down Friday at midnight.