The Department of Defense(DoD) mitigated disruptions caused by the 2013 sequestration by reprioritizing funding and using balances from 2012, according to new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
The GAO’s comprehensive, 224 report details how the 2013 sequestration affected federal agencies. While nearly all of the DoD’s funding of about $149.7 billion was subject to sequestration cuts, about $37.2 billion in discretionary appropriations and about $37.6 million in direct spending funds were sequestered in 2013.
Yet the DoD minimized disruptions through numerous cost-savings measures. By September 2013, the DoD estimated that 640,592 of 767,062 civilian personnel had been furloughed for 6 days, for an estimated spending reduction of approximately $1.2 billion.
TRAINING CUTS = READINESS CUTS?
It cancelled or curtailed training for certain units that were not preparing to deploy in early fiscal year 2014. For example, the Army reduced training for all units except those who were deployed or stationed overseas during fiscal year 2013. the Air Force initially ceased flight operations for about one-third of its active duty combat Air Force units.
Some military services delayed depot maintenance planned for 2013, including the Air Force’s decision to defer $100 million of maintenance for active duty from its public depots. Other military service commands outlined spending reductions at military bases including deferring building sustainment, delaying the renewal of contracts, and reducing electricity usage.
The DoD reduced some weapon systems procurement quantities, deferred modifications, and reduced or delayed research projects or system development and testing. To cover some of the reductions, DOD used approximately $5 billion in available prior year unobligated balances.
Many of these costs were simply deferments and DoD offices said ultimately they may cause increased costs over the next few years.
For example, because of deferred depot maintenance, certain armed forces could face equipment readiness shortfalls and delays in resetting the force, increases in depot rates that would lead to more expensive maintenance costs, and limited depot workforce capabilities. Plus, the reduction of installation support services will likely lead to higher future costs for these services due to facility degradation.