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Personnel Exempted From .38 Percent Budget Cut

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 14, 2000 – Service members will barely notice congressionally mandated federal budget cuts, Pentagon officials said Jan. 11.

Congress exempted military pay and benefits from the .38 percent fiscal 2000 budget cut it passed in December.

"We don't have to cut back ... the 4.8 percent pay increase, nor do we have to cut back the number of people in the military in order to reduce what we spend in personnel," Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon said. "We have to take the cut in other areas, and we have done that in a very surgical way."

Since Congress exempted personnel, the bulk of DoD's cuts were in procurement and operations and maintenance accounts. "Basically, we took the smallest cuts in our top-priority programs," Bacon said. To hit the mandated bottom line, some DoD programs were cut more than 0.38 percent, though none lost more than 5 percent.

According to the legislation, no program could take more than a 15 percent cut, and no department was allowed to impose an across-the-board cut.

"The cuts had to reflect the priorities of the department," said a defense official. Bacon noted some high-priority programs, such as the Air Force F-22 air superiority fighter, escaped cuts.

DoD officials were careful in cutting operations and maintenance accounts. Money in these accounts directly affects readiness. Bacon said one measurement of readiness is the amount of O&M money per person in uniform. In constant 1999 dollars, he said, the figure was $53,000 per service member in 1990 and $67,800 in 1999.

DoD officials will release a list of the affected programs soon.

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