Future Years Defense Program:

Lower Inflation Outlook Was Most Significant Change From 1996 to 1997 Program

NSIAD-97-36: Published: Dec 12, 1996. Publicly Released: Dec 12, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO compared the Department of Defense's (DOD) fiscal year (FY) 1997 Future Years Defense Program (FYDP) with the FYDP for FY 1996, focusing on the: (1) impact of the reduction in the inflation rate on DOD's 1997 FDYP; (2) major program adjustments from the 1996 FDYP to the 1997 FDYP; and (3) implications of these changes for the future.

GAO found that: (1) as a result of projecting significantly lower inflation rates, DOD calculated that its future purchases of goods and services in its 1997 FYDP would cost about $34.7 billion less than planned in its 1996 FYDP; (2) according to DOD, the assumed increased purchasing power that resulted from using the lower inflation rates: (a) allowed DOD to include about $19.5 billion in additional programs in FY 1997-2001 than it had projected in the 1996 FYDP; and (b) permitted the executive branch to reduce DOD's projected funding over the 1997-2001 period by about $15.2 billion; (3) the price measure the executive branch used in its inflation projections for future purchases in the 1997 FYDP had inherent limitations and has since been improved; (4) if the executive branch decides to use the improved price measure for its 1998 budget, DOD may need to adjust its program as a result of that transition; (5) Office of Management and Budget officials told GAO they have not decided what price measure they will use to forecast inflation for the 1998 FYDP; (6) using projected inflation rates based on a different price measure from that used by the executive branch, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the future cost of DOD's purchases through 2001 would decline by only about $10.3 billion, or $24.4 billion less than DOD's estimate; (7) resource allocations in the 1997 FYDP vary considerably from the 1996 FYDP as a result of the lower inflation projections, program transfers, and program changes; (8) the projected savings from the latest round of base closures and realignments changed considerably from the 1996 FYDP to the 1997 FYDP; (9) in the 1996 FYDP, DOD estimated savings of $4 billion from base closures; however, the 1997 FYDP projects savings of only $0.6 billion because: (a) the 1996 FYDP projected savings based on interim base closing plans that subsequently changed; and (b) military construction costs related to environmental cleanup of closed bases are projected to be $2.5 billion higher than anticipated in the 1996 FYDP; (10) a comparison of the 1996 and 1997 FYDPs also shows that DOD plans to reduce active duty force levels; (11) the smaller force planned for FY 1998-2001 would bring force levels below the minimum numbers established by law; and (12) if DOD is precluded from carrying out its plan to achieve a smaller force, it will have to make other adjustments to its program.

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