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Nominee Pledges to Continue Meeting DOD’s Fiscal Challenges

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 26, 2014 – The Defense Department has faced many funding challenges and stands ready to meet those ahead, the man nominated to be the Pentagon’s next chief financial officer said at a Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing here yesterday.

If confirmed by the Senate, Michael J. McCord would succeed Robert F. Hale, who is retiring, as undersecretary of defense (comptroller). He now serves as Hale’s principal deputy.

The Defense Department will continue to meet its obligations despite budgetary constraints, McCord said.

“These past few years have been especially challenging as we work through the longest continuing resolutions in the department's history, the sequester, a shutdown and furloughs -- all while supporting the demands of our wartime operations,” he told the senators.

“We face many challenging challenges going forward in this era of dynamic security changes and constrained resources,” McCord said, but I'm confident we'll continue to meet those challenges.”

DOD respects the work of its warfighters, but must tighten budgetary strings, he said, noting that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel previewed the department’s fiscal year 2015 budget request, which includes personnel-related proposals to slow military costs, earlier this week.

“We are just trying to restrain the growth a little bit,” McCord explained. “The compensation of our military is about a third of our budget. Including military and civilian, it's about half.”

“We cannot leave that area completely untouched,” he continued. “However, as has been the case every year that we have made some proposals in this area, they are proportionately small. We are relatively protecting compensation, [and DOD is] just recognizing the need that we have to make some savings there to do what we need to do.”

Overall, the Senate committee and the Defense Department have a shared goal in military budgetary matters, McCord noted.

“We have a goal [then-Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta] set for the 2014 statement of budgetary resources, and we have a larger goal for 2017,” he said. “I believe that we're on track.” If he’s confirmed, McCord added, he plans to continue the existing DOD plan to reach those goals.

“We're making progress,” he said.

In written testimony he submitted to the committee in advance of the hearing, McCord noted that including his five years as the Defense Department’s deputy comptroller, he has more than 29 years of experience in defense budget and financial management analysis. This includes:

-- 21 years as a Senate Armed Services Committee staff member overseeing the DOD budget and providing expert analysis on issues such as funding overseas contingency operations, the fiscal impact of legislation, reprogramming of funds to meet emerging needs, questions of fiscal law and financial management, the analysis of alternative courses of action with respect to specific programs, and knowledge of the federal budget process;

-- Two years at the Congressional Budget Office analyzing military pay and benefits, including military retirement, and force structure costs; and

-- Service on the staff of the House Budget Committee working topline funding issues pertaining to both defense and veterans issues, which he said enhances his understanding of benefit issues and the areas of interaction between the two departments, as well as the analysis of the cost of contingency operations and the overall federal budget process.

(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkAFPS)

 

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