Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he met with the service secretaries and other top Pentagon officials March 26 to discuss how the Department of Defense will properly manage the financial infusion it expects to receive from the recently enacted fiscal year 2018 omnibus appropriations act.
The $1.3-trillion omnibus, which contains $700 billion for defense, an $80 billion increase from FY 2017, was signed into law by President Donald Trump March 23 (Defense Daily, March 23). While enactment came almost six months into the fiscal year, Congress included provisions that will give DoD “a little more flexibility on the timelines to obligate money so we don’t feel this [is] being rushed,” Mattis told reporters in an informal exchange at the Pentagon.
For example, one provision allows 25 percent of operation and maintenance accounts to be obligated in the last two months of FY 2018, up from the previous limit of 20 percent, according to an omnibus summary released by the Senate Appropriations Committee.
“These flexibility changes will allow for smarter execution of the $230 billion in base and [overseas contingency operations] funding provided for the operation and maintenance accounts by avoiding the ‘use it or lose it’ dilemma and allowing more timely execution of readiness line items that have been affected by fact-of-life changes or emergent requirements,” the committee wrote.
Mattis also revealed that he sent out a one-page memorandum asking “all members” of DoD to help spend the omnibus money carefully to ensure it strengthens the military.
“This requires all hands’ aggressive attention to detail in executing the budget in a manner that demonstrates sound judgment and managerial integrity,” he wrote.
On another topic, Mattis told reporters that he does not know John Bolton, Trump’s controversial new pick to be national security adviser, but plans to meet with him soon.
"I look forward to working with him," Mattis said. "No reservations, no concerns at all. Last time I checked, he's an American. I can work with an American, okay?"