The President’s Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2021 included just under $69 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account. This is a slush fund, let’s all just admit it. This bogus accounting gimmick was used to evade the budget caps placed on defense spending by the about-to-be-defunct Budget Control Act (BCA).
Taxpayers for Common Sense has been at the forefront of calling out abuses of this accounting dodge. And we’ll be watching with interest to see if the budget requests in the future actually go down to $20 billion and then $10 billion a year in the immediate future. (Don’t bet on it.)
But for all the Congressional insistence that this extra special account is needed for an extra special agency like the Pentagon, the Senate Appropriators managed to make plenty of cuts to the account. (Needle scratch, screeching tires.) Say what? The Senate Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Defense cut OCO? No, not exactly.
There are plenty of reductions to lines like: Family of Persistent Surveillance and Counterintelligence/Security Countermeasures. But the OCO total remains the same — $68.6 billion. And that’s because a perpetually unrequested collection of pork barrel projects called the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Fund gets funded to the tune of $850 million by the Senate Appropriators in the draft Pentagon spending bill.
This has been going on for years. The equipment list became the last refuge of contractors looking for program increases when earmarks were banned. It’s a vast pot of money that Congress then makes “suggestions” on how the Guard and Reserve components should spend it. “Suggestions” really being directions in this case. We’ve been writing about this for quite a few years and the fund has been on our infamous “Zero to Hero” lists for a long time.
The National Guard and Reserve Equipment Fund is a slush fund. OCO is a slush fund. This is slush to the second power.