A recent report from the Government Accountability Office covered some old ground last week: the bigger budget the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) says it needs to keep planned programs and programs of record on track could eat other defense programs’ lunch.
“Such an increase may require cuts in other national defense programs to keep the defense budget within spending limits,” the Government Accountability Office (GAO) stated
in the report published Thursday.
The report is the product of five months of work from March to July by the congressional auditor, according to the report. Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.), two of the Senate’s biggest nuclear-war watchdogs, asked for the audit.
The NNSA seeks a roughly $20 billion budget for fiscal 2021, which starts Oct. 1. That is better than a 20% increase from the 2020 budget of more than $16.5 billion. The Pentagon decided to build one Virginia-class attack submarine instead of two to accommodate the NNSA’s needs for 2021: a plan the Senate has gone along with, but which the House has not.
On Friday, the full House passed a 2021 appropriations package that would give the NNSA $18 billion for 2021.
Meanwhile, the GAO said, the NNSA has not calculated how its modernization program might change if the U.S. and Russia do not renew the New START nuclear arms-limitation treaty for another five years, beginning in February 2021.
“NNSA has not yet considered the implications of the potential expiration of New START on the assumptions underlying its overall program of record and the program’s future-years funding projections as described in the fiscal year 2021 budget justification,” the GAO wrote in last week’s audit report. “According to DoD officials, DoD is basing its plans on the assumption that New START will be extended, and it currently has no plans to change its existing force structure.”