Global War on Terrorism:

DOD Should Consider All Funds Requested for the War When Determining Needs and Covering Expenses

GAO-05-767: Published: Sep 28, 2005. Publicly Released: Sep 28, 2005.

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To assist the Congress in its oversight role, GAO is undertaking a series of reviews on the costs of operations in support of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). In related work, GAO is raising concerns about the reliability of the Department of Defense's (DOD) reported cost data and therefore is unable to ensure that DOD's reported obligations for GWOT are complete, reliable, and accurate. In this report, GAO (1) identified funding for GWOT in fiscal years 2004 and 2005, (2) compared supplemental appropriations for GWOT in fiscal year 2004 to the military services' reported obligations, and (3) compared supplemental appropriations for GWOT in fiscal year 2005 to the military services' projected obligations.

In fiscal years 2004 and 2005, DOD received funding for GWOT through both funds included in its annual appropriation and supplemental appropriations. In fiscal years 2004 and 2005, the military services received about $52.4 billion and $62.1 billion, respectively, in supplemental appropriations for GWOT (1) military personnel and (2) operation and maintenance expenses. The Army, Air Force, and Navy also received in their annual appropriations a combined $7.9 billion in fiscal year 2004 and a combined $7.6 billion in fiscal year 2005, which DOD described as being intended to support GWOT. The military services absorbed the increase into their annual appropriations and allocated it based on their judgment of where the funds were most needed. DOD's accounting systems, however, do not separately identify these additional appropriations, and there are no reporting requirements for DOD to identify to which appropriation accounts the funds were allocated; consequently, the military services have lost visibility over these funds and do not know the extent to which they are being used to support GWOT. Despite having asked for the increase to support GWOT, DOD is not explicitly counting these additional funds when considering the amount of funding available to cover GWOT expenses. For fiscal year 2004, regarding supplemental appropriations for GWOT military personnel expenses, the Navy and Marine Corps reported more in obligations than they received in supplemental appropriations, while the Army and Air Force received more in supplemental appropriations than their reported obligations. Each of the services reported more in GWOT operation and maintenance obligations than it received in supplemental appropriations. To cover the differences (gaps), DOD and the services exercised a number of authorities provided them, including transferring funds and reducing or deferring planned spending for peacetime operations. However, in considering the amount of funding available to cover the gaps, DOD did not explicitly take into account the funds provided through its annual appropriation that as previously noted it described as for the support of GWOT. If DOD had considered these funds, it could have reduced the Army's GWOT gap and eliminated the GWOT gaps of the Air Force and Navy. For fiscal year 2005, the services' forecasts of GWOT obligations for the full fiscal year as of June 2005 suggest a potential gap of $500 million for military personnel for the Air Force and potential gaps of about $2.7 billion and about $1 billion, respectively, for operation and maintenance for the Army and Air Force. To cover expenses, DOD and the services again plan to take a variety of actions, including reprogramming funds and reducing or deferring planned spending. However, DOD is again not explicitly considering the funds provided through its annual appropriation, which it described as for the support of GWOT. If counted in fiscal year 2005, the amounts potentially could reduce the Army's and eliminate the Air Force's GWOT gaps and eliminate the need for reprogramming funds and reducing or deferring planned spending.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Matter for Congressional Consideration

    Matter: Because DOD did not concur with our recommendation to adjust its future supplemental appropriations requests to reflect the additional funds the department requested and received in its annual appropriations to support GWOT and explain these adjustments to the Congress, we have no confidence that the Congress will receive the information that we believe the Congress needs to properly assess DOD's requests for supplemental appropriations to support the war. Further, because the amount of funds DOD is receiving to support GWOT through its annual appropriations is substantial--more than $10 billion annually--the Congress may wish to consider directing DOD, when it submits future supplemental appropriations requests, to provide an explanation of how such requests reflect the funds DOD requested and already received in its annual appropriations to support GWOT.

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On July 25, 2005, we briefed the results of our findings to the Senate Appropriations' Defense Subcommittee who found this information useful and, working with House conferees, reduced DOD's appropriations in FY 2006 for Operation Noble Eagle by $540.4 million. The reduction was implemented in the final bill signed by the President on December 30, 2005. This action is consistent with our September 2005 report and addresses the intent of our recommendation that DOD adjust supplemental appropriations to reflect the additional funds DOD requested and received in its annual appropriations to support Global War on Terror.

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: To improve the visibility and accountability of DOD's use of funds for GWOT, the Secretary of Defense, in future requests for supplemental appropriations, should adjust such requests to reflect the additional funds DOD requested and received in its annual appropriations to support GWOT and provide the Congress with an explanation of these adjustments.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Department has been unable to say if the funds provided for Global War on Terror (GWOT) were actually used to cover its GWOT expenses. We are therefore closing the recommendation as not implemented.

    Recommendation: Further, in addressing any future GWOT funding needs, the Secretary of Defense should consider the additional GWOT funds provided through the department's annual appropriation when assessing how to cover expenses for the war and document its decisions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Department has been unable to say if the funds provided for Global War on Terror (GWOT) were actually used to cover its GWOT expenses. We are therefore closing the recommendation as not implemented.

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