Pentagon Comptroller Sees Possible Softer Blow From Spending Cuts

September 25, 2012

The U.S. Defense Department may have more flexibility to cope with what it has painted as a potentially devastating across-the-board spending cut, the department's chief financial officer said Tuesday.

Robert Hale, the Pentagon's comptroller, said he interpreted preliminary guidance from the White House to mean the Pentagon may dodge its worst fear: an indiscriminate lop of 9.4 percent from all of its more than 2,500 programs or projects.

He said the White House Office of Management and Budget's instructions in a September 14 report, would give the Pentagon latitude to make such cuts within each overall budget account, rather than program by program.

If so, this would let the Pentagon protect higher-priority arms programs, for instance, by cutting more elsewhere in its budget.

The ability to pick and choose program cuts to meet overall budget constraints "would give us more flexibility," Hale said in a brief interview after speaking at a forum in suburban Arlington, Virginia, hosted by Government Executive magazine.

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