Redstone Arsenal, Ala. -- It should be obvious. Everything that soldiers need from uniforms to food to spare parts for equipment has to be bought and paid for. Shipping costs have to be met. Contracts for everything have to be finalized. The problem is, Congress hasn't passed an annual budget in years. There have been regular continuing resolutions to keep the government going and from time to time there have been government shutdowns. Everything seems to be on a short-term basis. "It's a process. We all know how to work through it. It's happened for multiple years, so we get used to it," said Sue Goodyear, the Deputy Chief of Staff for Resource Management for the Army Materiel Command.
Sue Goodyear's job is to advise the Commanding General for AMC on how to use the available funding. The lack of predictable funding makes that job complicated. "Some days you have enough. Some days you have conflicting priorities and providing advice to the Commander to balance his dollars to get the right amount of Army readiness can be a very challenging proposition," said Goodyear.
We're talking big money too. The Army Materiel Command spends some $40 billion a year, and while a chunk of that is provided by revenue from foreign military sales, a predictable budget is still very important. The budget used to be passed regularly and that would still be the ideal. If Goodyear could talk to Congress, she knows exactly what she would say. "Pass a budget on time, and give users the predictable funding we need. And consistently pass a budget on time, not just one year. Consistently year after year, pass that budget on time with a predictable funding level," said Goodyear.
She says with the funding it has, the Army Materiel Command can do its job, but not having the funding in predictable amounts is a definite problem. "It's disruptive to what we need to do to support the nation, to support our soldiers," said Goodyear.
She says this also wastes taxpayer money by changing the way AMC can deal with contractors and suppliers. She says the average family would have a hard time knowing how to spend their money if they didn't know what their paycheck would be.
The current way of funding also impacts the ability of the military to plan for the future. When you can't count on predictable funding in the years to come, you can't know how much you can spend. All America's armed forces want to plan for future systems, but that is tough to do in the current funding climate.