Defense Budgeting

Organizational Adaptation to External Constraints

by John P. Crecine


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A detailed review of the annual Department of Defense budgetary process. In spite of many differences in necessary procedures under PPBS, adopted by DOD in 1961, methods of arriving at dollar figures for line items in the appropriations request are not dissimilar to those of the 1950s — namely, a prior determination of the total for defense and a cutting of service requests to meet an overall target figure. Actual military programs are rarely considered on their merits alone (as PPBS proponents intended they should be), but must be "brought into line" at the end of the budget cycle. The problem: Planning and programming decisions do not carry the force of actual resource allocation decisions in DOD; and, while PPBS is well designed for program planning, it fails as a system to take into account important fiscal constraints on the defense budget, the capacity for which should be built into the system to make it credible to the services.

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