As Congress debates budget resolutions that bypass Budget Control Act limits on defense spending by inflating the Pentagon’s overseas contingency operations account, many questions remain about what the Obama administration requested for defense budget in early February. Today the Niskanen Center released its analysis of President Obama’s defense budget for fiscal year 2016. The budget not only exceeds historical averages for defense spending, it also fails to address internal problems at the Department of Defense that lead to spiraling spending with little to no positive effect on national security.

From the executive summary:

The Obama administration has requested well over half a trillion dollars for fiscal year 2016, exceeding statutory caps on the Pentagon’s base budget alone by $35 billion. These excess funds do little to address the internal problems at the Department of Defense that drive increased spending without contributing to national security. Moreover, exceeding the caps weakens the Pentagon’s incentive to undertake internal reforms. The continued use of the war funding account as a slush fund, because it exempt from the spending limits, contributes to that problem.


Congress would better serve both fiscal responsibility and national security by holding the Department of Defense budget to Budget Control Act spending levels, which remain well above the Cold War average for defense spending and the defense budgets of America’s closest competitors. It should also look at decentralizing Department of Defense management. The resulting competition for missions and budget share will create powerful incentives for the armed forces to operate more efficiently.

Read the entire analysis here.