U.S. Defense Budget Outcomes: Volatility and Predictability in Army Weapons Funding.
Author: Ms. Heidi Brockmann Demarest
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Copyright Date: 2017
Hard/Softcover/Digital: Hardcover, 205 pages
This book presents a highly readable description of the U.S. defense budget process with a focus on the U.S. Army's weapon systems procurement. It does not cover other budget areas like force structure, operations, and maintenance. The author worked in the U.S. Army budgeting office and taps on her experience to provide an insider's look, but also draws in experts from Congress and elsewhere to paint a broader picture of how the Army's budget moves from the Army's requirements through Congress to program managers to writing checks to contractors
The first section of the book describes why the defense budget should be of concern to the average citizen. It then progresses to an entertaining and informative fictionalized account of how the budget moves through the Army, DoD, and Congress with Army officials, Congressional staffers, and lobbyists all playing a part.
The remainder of the book uses case studies to describe the budgetary turmoil that some Army procurement programs have incurred. The author posits several possible explanations for the turmoil, but concludes that none are dominant and that all contribute to turmoil on a case-by-case basis. The author presents some hard data to reinforce her findings; however, the statistical analysis is thin. Fortunately, the author includes the data so that the reader can draw their own conclusions.
The author's main finding is that the individual program funding "is markedly nonincremental," and "fluctuates wildly as political and programmatic battles are won and lost" even if "the aggregate defense budget is actually relatively static and predictable." In the final chapter, some suggestions are offered on reconciling volatility and stability in procurement budgets.
Defense professionals interested in an overview of how the Army develops its procurement budget and how that budget evolves as it passes through Congressional approval will find this book useful. An interesting follow-on study would be to compare and contrast how procurement processes within the other Services, i.e., Navy and Air Force, compare to that of the Army.
Reviewed by: Mr. Bernard Kempinski, Defense Analyst, Alexandria, VA