blog graphic May 15

Let’s Get With the (Re)Program

Although I studied political science in college, at the time in the early 1980s, students were required to take a basic class in computer programming. It was so basic that the program in use was called Basic. It should have been an easy A. For me, it was not to be.

Despite my father being an executive with IBM, I had no interest in understanding how computers worked. I was a user of technology—I didn’t much care for how it took its direction to produce an outcome. I contend I’m not alone and it’s played a significant role in Apple’s success in the consumer computing world. Consumers want a great experience. It was enough for me to know that computers use programs; I would never be a programmer. Yet, programming remains relevant in my life, and likely yours too.

Do you feel the tectonic shift of budget allocations?

Did you know as much as $2 billion in FY23 funds are in the process of being reallocated?

For a host of reasons, such as changes in the operational environment, capability failures, technological advances, or shifts in political will, have led to the movement of funds planned and approved in the FY23 appropriation. Between July and September, a significant amount of these funds will be redirected.

The annual DoD omnibus reprogramming is a process that allows the DoD to make changes to its budget allocation for the fiscal year in response to emerging needs or shifting priorities. It involves reallocating funds between programs and budget categories within the DoD’s overall budget. Compliance with the rules and regulations ensures transparency, accountability, and effective use of funds. Justifications, thresholds, approvals, and proper documentation are important aspects of the reprogramming process to ensure compliance.

Computer programming involves writing a set of instructions, known as code, in a specific programming language that enables the computer to perform tasks. Programming involves a series of steps, from designing a solution, implementing the solution in code, testing to ensure it works correctly, and debugging any errors or issues that arise. Similarly, reprogramming a computer requires changing or updating the software or firmware it runs on, either by modifying the source code or applying updates and changes to the system.

In the context of DoD budgeting, a program refers to a set of activities and resources aimed at achieving a specific goal or objective. It includes projects or initiatives designed to achieve outcomes, such as developing new weapon systems, modernizing existing systems, or training military personnel. Examples of high-profile programs include the F-35, Virginia Class submarine, and the Sentinel Ground Based Missile Defense system.

Programs in DoD budgeting are organized into budget categories and further divided into program elements, each assigned a unique identifier called a program element (PE). The PE is used to track funding precisely and ensure that the appropriate resources are executed to reach the program’s objectives. Regular reviews and assessments are conducted to align programs with the overall goals and priorities of the DoD, including evaluating effectiveness, identifying emerging needs, and developing new programs to address threats or challenges.

Reprogramming funds in DoD budgeting refers to the process of reallocating funds from one budget category or program to another. This allows the DoD to respond to unforeseen circumstances or changing priorities without waiting for the next budget cycle. Reprogramming actions can include changes in funding for particular programs or activities, as well as the reassignment of funding between DoD agencies or components. The aim is to adapt to changing circumstances and effectively allocate resources to support the DoD’s mission. As a contractor, you can provide input to the DoD during the budget planning process, but the final decision rests with the DoD. 

Reprogramming decisions made by the DoD can impact contractors, potentially affecting the scope or schedule of ongoing contracts. In such cases, contractors may need to negotiate changes with the DoD to accommodate revised funding levels or program priorities. Staying informed about the DoD budget process and potential reprogramming actions is crucial for contractors to prepare for potential changes while maintaining open communication with the DoD. 

Why all the fuss?

The defense budget is enormous and spending it all according to a plan that is one to two years old can be challenging. Even though $2 billion reprogramming represents less than one quarter of one percent of the total budget, for most small businesses, the addition or loss of single-digit millions in a single year matters. It’s essential to pay attention to these changes and keep yourself informed as you navigate the world of programs, reprograming, and budgeting.

What’s an ATR?

An above-threshold reprogramming (ATR) in DoD budgeting refers to a request to transfer funds between appropriations accounts that exceed a certain dollar threshold. These requests involve larger amounts of funding and undergo more stringent review and approval processes compared to below-threshold reprogramming requests. DoD components must submit above-threshold requests to all four congressional defense committees providing detailed information on the proposed transfer and its impact on other programs or activities.

While program managers may have limited authority to move funds within their accounts, it is subject to specific rules and limitations. Program managers are responsible for a specific set of programs within a larger DoD appropriations account. They may have limited authority to reprogram funds within their programs, as long as the total reprogramming does not exceed a certain threshold.

The defense budget is enormous and spending it all according to a plan that is one to two years old can be challenging. Even though $2 billion reprogramming represents less than one quarter of one percent of the total budget, for most small businesses, the addition or loss of single-digit millions in a single year matters. It’s essential to pay attention to these changes and keep yourself informed as you navigate the world of programs, reprograming, and budgeting.

Did you vote in any of my April polls on LinkedIn? Here are the results.

In your opinion, what is the primary reason for the worker shortage in shipbuilding? 56% said lack of interest in trade, 19% said lack of training programs and 19% said insufficient compensation.

What aspects of defense sector trade shows are you most interested in? 75% said networking opportunities and 25% said industry trends.

Should President Biden Invoke the Defense Production Act in support of stimulating industrial capacity? 86% said yes and 14% said no.

Which aspect of think tanks do you find most valuable? 60% said policy research and analysis, 20% said non-partisan and 20% said expert recommendations.

Save the date

Tuesday, July 18th, 2023 at 11 AM EDT

The mid-year omnibus reprogramming arrives in Congress. Are you tracking this and do you understand its impact on your business?  Join me for 30 minutes that can change your fiscal year close-out from ‘almost made it’ to ‘cleared it by a mile.’

NL July 18th

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