President Biden’s budget asks for $753 billion in national security funding, including $715 billion for the Defense Department. While this is a slight decrease when adjusted for inflation, it is the first budget in a decade not limited by spending caps set in 2011, which were partially responsible for readiness shortfalls afflicting the armed forces in recent years. The budget proposal also ends the overseas contingency operations (OCO) account, which was not subject to spending cap limitations. As President Biden’s budget is debated in Congress, it will face scrutiny not only from Republicans, many of whom want to increase spending, but also from many progressive Democrats who want to spend less on national defense.
Arguably, just as important as the size of the defense budget is the way that budget is spent. A central element of the way the Pentagon decides how to allocate resources and manage expenses is the Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution System, or PPBES. However, critics have called for fundamental overhaul of this system.
On April 29, Foreign Policy at Brookings hosted an event to discuss the Biden administration’s first defense budget, that featured former Department of Defense Comptroller Robert Hale, whose paper for Brookings outlines the merits of the PPBES and suggests several improvements.
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PanelistMichael E. O’Hanlon Director of Research - Foreign Policy, Director - Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology, Co-Director - Africa Security Initiative, Senior Fellow - Foreign Policy, Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology, Philip H. Knight Chair in Defense and StrategyCaitlin Talmadge Nonresident Senior Fellow - Foreign Policy, Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology