Administration commends the House for its action in developing comprehensive
and balanced national security legislation that is largely consistent
with the Administration's national defense priorities. While the Administration
supports the bill, there are several provisions, principally competitive
sourcing and base closure and realignment, that the Administration
hopes will be improved before the bill reaches the President's desk.
The Administration looks forward to working with Congress to address
these and other concerns.
2586 supports the Administration's effort to address shortfalls
in readiness, enhance the quality of life for our military troops
and their families, and begin the transformation of the nation's
defense capabilities to meet current threats. In particular, the
Administration applauds the increase provided by H.R. 2586 for the
quality of life of our members of the armed forces by providing
a pay raise of at least 6% for enlisted members, at least 5% for
officers, and up to 10% for members in certain pay grades. Moreover,
it reduces service members' average out-of-pocket housing expenses
from the current 15% to 11.3% in fiscal year 2002. The bill also
funds most of the Administration's missile defense program. It is
imperative that this level of funding not be reduced if the U.S.
is to meet its objective of countering missile threats of all types.
H.R. 2586 is consistent with the Administration's policy of making
permanent the authorities in the Military Housing Privatization
Initiative. The Administration appreciates the provision of the
bill (section 342) that supports effective home-schooling for Department
of Defense dependent children whose parents choose that educational
option. In addition, the bill would help the Administration's efforts
to identify and recover overpayments.
2586, however, includes a number of provisions which are of great
Administration strongly opposes sections 331, 333 and 361-366. Sections
333 and 361-366 would severely limit the Department's ability to
acquire services necessary to help the Department meet current threats.
The Department of Defense must have the flexibility to choose the
public or private source best able to meet the nation's pressing
needs. The President wants Congress to send him a bill that he can
sign quickly. Accordingly, his senior advisors recommend that the
highly objectionable provisions be corrected so that this critical
flexibility can be preserved.
361-366 would impose significant burdens and cost on the Department
through the misdirected application of public-private competitions.
The Administration strongly objects to the requirement to conduct
public-private competitions for all new requirements and previously
contracted work -- both subject to recurring private sector competition
-- and for de minimis activities where direct conversions can yield
significant savings. The Administration also strongly opposes creation
of a new reporting system, as called for by sections 333 and 366,
for tracking the direct and indirect manhours and proprietary cost
information of its contractors and the unnecessary burden this will
impose on businesses for information that offers little or no value
in ensuring successful contract performance. Section 333 would inappropriately
exempt reporting requirements imposed by the Army from public comment
and review by the Office of Management and Budget under the Paperwork
Reduction Act that would ensure the benefits of collection outweigh
burden and cost. The Administration strongly urges deletion of these
costly and burdensome provisions that could jeopardize the Department's
ability to contract for services in a timely manner.
331 would restrict the Department's ability to conduct reviews of
in-house functions for first-time competition with the private sector.
The Administration seeks to achieve savings (of anywhere from 20
to 50 percent) and improve delivery of service through competition.
The Department estimates almost $12 billion in net savings from
competitions between fiscal years 1997 and 2007. Restricting the
number of functions eligible for competition in fiscal year 2002
to approximately 3,000 positions is substantially below planned
levels for DoD competitions and would prevent the Department from
fully realizing these savings.
provisions are inconsistent with the goals of the President's Management
Agenda, which was announced just last month. The Administration
believes these provisions should be eliminated, or significantly
revised, before the bill is presented to the President.
2586 does not include language that authorizes the Administration's
proposed "Efficient Facilities Initiative." This legislation would
authorize a reduction in excess infrastructure through an additional
round of base closure and realignment, allowing the Department to
better meet operational readiness objectives and modernization requirements
in support of our overall national security homeland defense and
war fighting plan. The President wants Congress to send him a bill
that he can sign quickly. Accordingly, his senior advisors recommend
that these essential provisions be included and a bill passed as
quickly as possible.
Acquisition and Support Workforce Reductions
Administration strongly opposes the mandated cut of 13,000 acquisition
workforce personnel in section 901. This cut would severely damage
the quality and cost management of weapon system programs aimed
at ensuring the long-term superiority of America's armed forces.
Between 1989 and 2000, DoD reduced its civilian acquisition workforce
by over 51% -- leaving an older workforce with 50% eligible to retire
by 2006. Strategic planning projections indicate that DoD will be
unable to backfill expected attrition beginning as soon as FY 2004.
Numerous DoD, GAO, and private studies identified this looming crisis
and the increased risk to defense acquisition from added workforce
reductions. The Department is approaching the challenge of reducing
the workforce through human capital planning, and this arbitrary
cut would undermine ongoing efforts that are critical to the transformation
of the U.S. defense posture.
the Administration supports the Committee's cancellation of a currently
scheduled November referendum over the future of the Vieques training
range, the Administration is concerned that the bill's certification
requirements are unnecessarily rigid. The Administration believes
that the Navy's training needs may be met through a combination
of geographic locations and alternative training methods as opposed
to a single training site. In addition, the Administration objects
to the provision that would require the Navy to retain administrative
jurisdiction over the Eastern end of Vieques in the event that operations
terminate. This requirement would drain scarce resources from the
Department of the Navy that would otherwise be directed toward national
Administration opposes section 2906 concerning Environmental Compliance
and Response Requirements in connection with the Fort Irwin Military
Land Withdrawal Act of 2001. The Administration urges the House
to adopt the language in section 2906 of the Administration-cleared
proposal, which was agreed to by the Department of Interior and
the Department of the Army.
Administration opposes the broad indemnification language contained
in section 2812, which would require the Secretary of Defense to
indemnify persons or entities that own or control property that
was previously part of the Brooks Air Force Base in Texas. The proposed
section would imply that the current legal requirements are insufficient,
and, therefore, may create significant legal problems for the Federal
government, as well as the potential for large unfunded liabilities
in the outyears. Depending on the clean-up issues attendant to the
site, this section may create a situation in which United States
is required to defend commercial or corporate entities against which
it is bringing an action.
2586 would prohibit the retirement of any B1-B bombers until Congress
receives various reports and studies from DoD. The Administration
is concerned that this reporting requirement would unnecessarily
delay the B-1 consolidation plan and inhibit the Secretary's ability
to manage the Department's activities in an efficient manner. Delaying
the consolidation means that more support funding would be required
to maintain B-1s that are no longer required. In addition, these
delays may slow the savings shift for critical upgrades to the remaining
B-1 bomber fleet.
Administration objects to the $330 million reduction to Operation
and Maintenance, Defense-wide. This would disrupt many operations
and supporting activities that are critical to the readiness and
well-being of U.S. forces and military personnel.
permanently excluding the Marine Corps from the Navy Marine Corps
Intranet (NMCI) as well as other FY02 exclusions, and the $125M
undistributed reduction to the Navy's NMCI O&M account threatens
efforts to transform information technology in the Navy and Marine
Corps. Further, the undistributed O&M reduction will adversely affect
existing information technology support since the funds are the
same as those intended for NMCI.
Administration objects to section 2863, which would require the
Presidio Trust to provide housing to Army employees at below-market
rates. This would undermine the purpose of the Presidio Trust --
to manage this government property in a self-sufficient manner --
and encourage other groups to seek special benefits.
Administration is concerned with the provision allowing research
to be conducted on human subjects without their informed consent
in order to advance the development of a medical product necessary
to the armed forces. While we recognize a legitimate need for the
Defense Department to have equivalent waiver authority for emergency
research as that specified in the Food and Drug Administration's
regulations, the provision as drafted may jeopardize existing protections
for human subjects in research, and must be significantly narrowed.
We look forward to working with Congress to modify this provision.
Administration appreciates the support for improved benefits and
services to our Nation's military personnel. H.R. 2586, however,
includes a provision that would prohibit the Secretary of Defense
from annually ensuring that military retirees choose between DoD
and VA for health care. This provision runs counter to the President's
"CHOICE" initiative to better coordinate DoD and VA services. This
"CHOICE" initiative would enhance continuity of care, while optimizing
resources by preventing duplication of benefits.
2586 would authorize military retirees to receive VA disability
compensation without a reduction in retirement pay. While the provision
would be contingent on passage of subsequent legislation, the Administration
opposes the repeal of the current prohibition on the concurrent
receipt of military retired pay and VA disability compensation.
The Administration is committed to ensuring the health and security
of all of our military retirees. To that end, the Administration
is currently conducting a study of the issue of concurrent receipt
of military retired pay and VA disability benefits as requested
in section 314 of the budget resolution (H. Con. Res. 83). Section
314 states that the Secretary of Defense should submit the report
not later than November 6, 2001, along with any legislation considered
appropriate. We look forward to working with Congress to address
this important issue.
Administration is concerned with the limits imposed by sections
1022 and 1023, which will foreclose counterdrug operational decisions.
The Administration is currently reviewing the Tracker Aircraft and
the Tethered Aerostat Radar System programs. Thus, any action on
these programs would be premature until the results of the review
are complete. The Administration is also concerned with section
2408, which would undermine the Administration's ability to re-establish
counterdrug operations support capability once resident in Panama.
section 2811 appropriately allows the Secretary of Defense to override
State hunting, fishing, and trapping laws for military bases when
necessary for public safety, the Secretary should not override such
State laws merely for morale, welfare or recreation activities at
the bases. Section 2811 should be amended accordingly.
Security Program Transfer to DoD
Administration is concerned that H.R. 2586 does not support the
President's proposal to transfer funding and management of the Maritime
Security Program (MSP) to the Department of Defense. MSP supports
U.S. national security, and the program would be more effectively
managed through the Department of Defense. The Administration also
notes that the Committee provided $100 million, $70 million above
the level enacted in FY 2001, for the Maritime Administration's
Title XI loan guarantee program. The Administration is attempting
to reduce corporate subsidies and proposed zero funding for Title
XI. The Administration is confident that corporations involved in
shipbuilding can secure loans from private lenders without this
of Surplus Defense Plutonium
3134 places additional requirements on the Department of Energy's
(DOE) plans to dispose of surplus plutonium. The Administration
does not believe that the proposed provision is necessary or beneficial
to the Department's efforts to effectively manage this material.
The Administration has already indicated its commitment for the
timely disposition of surplus plutonium, and is implementing a dual-track
program to dispose of surplus fissile material located at cleanup
and closure sites, including the Savannah River Site. The Administration
notes that the cleanup of DOE's environmental liabilities depends
on the integration of various facilities located throughout the
country. Actions taken for the primary benefit of a single site
will invariably constrain critical activities at other sites, and
ultimately will have negative consequences for the taxpayers.
of Energy Transfers of Weapons Activities Funds
3130 would authorize the head of each national security laboratory
and nuclear weapons production facility to transfer up to $5 million
or 110% of the authorized amount from one program to another within
DOE's weapons activity account. These individuals are employees
of contractors who manage and operate the facilities. They are not
Federal officials. It would be most inappropriate to vest the authority
to allocate Federal program funds to contractor employees, whose
job is to carry out, rather than determine, Federal policy concerning
the disposition of federal funds. The Administration recommends
that the NNSA Administrator be given this authority.
Authority for Multiple Year Lease of Prepositioned Ships
2586 does not include the Administration's request for contract
authority to allow the Working Capital Funds (Military Sealift Command
(MSC)) to enter into multiple year leases for prepositioned ships.
Without contract authority, DoD will be required to negotiate the
contracts on an annual basis, which would require prepositioned
ships to return each year to the United States for cargo off load,
reducing readiness and increasing costs.
Funding for Military Retiree Health Benefits
Administration is pleased with the Committee's decision to include
technical corrections to the accrual funding mechanism for health
benefits to military retirees over age-65. However, the Administration
is concerned that the language prevents payments from the fund to
military health facilities, and makes the participation of other
Uniformed Services voluntary instead of mandatory.
1107 would eliminate the bi-weekly cap on premium pay under 5 U.S.C.
5547 for all federal civilian employees and replace it with an annual
cap. The language contains technical errors and could result in
significant agency costs and serious staffing problems. The Administration
intends to address pay reform comprehensively and opposes the changes
in premium pay included in Section 1107.
Administration opposes restoration of the Monroney provision, section
1110. Artificial increases in Federal wages, which would occur under
this provision, could make affected jobs less competitive with the
private sector, increasing the probability that the work will be
contracted out. If there are local pay anomalies causing recruitment
or retention problems at installations, there are administrative
authorities available to provide relief and thus legislative action
that purport to require or authorize subordinate executive branch
officials to submit draft legislation to Congress (for example,
sections 903 and 2911) must be construed consistently with the constitutional
grant of the executive power to the President and the President's
sole power under the constitution to recommend to Congress such
measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.
1208 purports to limit the authority of the President as Commander
in Chief to deploy the armed forces to a foreign country. The provision
unwisely limits the ability of the President to take action in an
unforseen emergency and should be stricken. The provision would
be construed in a manner consistent with the President's constitutional
Administration discourages the continuing Congressional practice
of enacting secret law. Therefore, the Administration discourages
the use of the statutory classified annex in section 1002 and instead
encourages use of classified annexes to the joint statement of conference
managers and committee reports.
Administration strongly supports establishing a consistent policy
for all federal employees with regard to differential payments for
asbestos exposure, and we have already provided enabling language
to Congress. However, the language included in Section 1108 would,
on a retroactive basis, make some federal employees ineligible for
payments with respect to work they have already performed for which
a standard of exposure exists, whereas those employees may be currently
entitled to receive payments for that work. We urge the Congress
to substitute the language included in the Administration's proposal,
which provides for the payment changes to be made on a prospective
law that would effect direct spending is subject to the pay-as-you-go
requirements of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control
Act. Accordingly, H.R. 2586 or any substitute amendment in lieu
thereof, that would also effect direct spending, will be subject
to the pay-as-you-go requirement. OMB's PAYGO scoring of H.R. 2586
is still under development. The Administration will work with Congress
to ensure that any unintended sequester of spending does not occur
under current law or the enactment of any other proposals that meet
the President's objectives to reduce the debt, fund priority initiatives,
and grant tax relief to all income tax paying Americans.