March 21, 2016
Ranking Member Smith,
We request that you require the Department of Defense to provide your Committee and the public with an annual, comprehensive, country-level budget justification for the approximately $10 billion in military assistance DOD provides to foreign governments.
Your constitutionally mandated oversight role depends upon the availability of good information, and yet DOD often fails to provide Congress with the most basic facts about military aid provided through 050 accounts. We understand that it is impossible even for Members of HASC to get timely information about how much and what types of aid DOD has provided to a particular country in a given time period.
American taxpayers should also be able to obtain basic information about the patterns of military support provided. Taxpayers cannot judge if these DOD-funded programs provide adequate value if they are not given rudimentary information about them.
As you are well aware, DOD now provides assistance to foreign forces through a patchwork of dozens of authorities. This year DOD released budget information on a number of the more expensive assistance authorities, such as Iraq’s train and equip program. But no coherent, country-level information is available for all authorities. The Congressional Research Service cannot even determine how much assistance DOD is providing through all of its programs and authorities in any given country, or globally.
A solution is possible: Require DOD to provide Congress with an annual comprehensive budget justification for all security cooperation assistance provided to each foreign government. Doing so would be consistent with the requirements applied to other federal departments that provide foreign assistance.
As is the case with the State Department, this annual budget justification should report on prior fiscal year spending and provide projections for future spending from the DOD budget. We understand that actual spending may differ from the projected levels, but requiring this basic information on plans would promote better programming at DOD, aid oversight, facilitate interagency planning, inform private sector activities, and help our foreign partners prevent waste and corruption. In all of these ways it would serve U.S. taxpayers’ interests.
Americans for Tax Reform
The London Center for Policy Research
Campaign for Liberty
National Taxpayer Union
Taxpayer Protection Alliance