Quick Hit – March 12, 2018

Highlights

Busy weeks on Capitol Hill this month. Over the past two weeks I personally observed appropriations staffs moving about their counterpart’s offices working diligently toward completing conference of the FY18 omnibus appropriation.  Their stated goal was to be complete well before the March 23rd deadline (when CR number five expires). Chairman Frelinghuysen (House Appropriations) put the heat on subcommittee chairmen to exercise their authority, make decisions and get the bill ready for vote. Look for the House to vote on the bill this week, leaving several days of cushion to allow for any Senate fireworks.  Fingers crossed, a bill will make it to President Trump for signature no later than March 23rd.

Spending Timelines

DoD in particular appears to have successfully made the case that spending a year’s worth of funding in the remaining six months of a fiscal year causes poor decisions and behaviors.  Look for some relief in the form of language allowing some flexibility in how long DoD has to spend various “flavors” of funds: O&M, RDT&E, and Procurement, for example.  Congressional appropriators are notoriously tight with the leash in granting flexibility that impinges on their oversight prerogatives. Any relief will be a breakthrough of sorts.

There are plenty of indications that despite said Congressional relief in timing of FY18 spending, DoD will still end the fiscal year with billions that are not able to be obligated.  What this means  is that there will be multiple opportunities to reprogram funds late in FY18.  Staying close to your PEO and PM with ready solutions that have an available contract vehicle could serve you well. You cannot over-communicate with your PM this year.

Change of Office

Senator Shelby (R-AL) appears well-positioned to assume the Chairmanship of both the Full Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee upon the April 1st retirement of Senator Cochran (R-MS). No Senators have spoken publicly of any other challenger to these key Chairmanships.

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