16 November 2016

The Defense Cateory of the Federal Budget Is Not ONLY "The Military Budget"

The proposed federal budget - it’s that time of year . . . again.   I want to point out that the Defense category of the budget is often misconstrued as “the military budget” when in fact Military Defense is only a part of the entire Defense budget.  The topic here is how the Defense budget is categorized.   The variety of categories at the end of this article might be a surprise to some.  It certainly was to me.

The 2016 budget graphics suffice for the purpose of illustrating general categories.  (Links to currently proposed 2017 budget can be found at the end of this article.)

Notice anything missing and/or confusing in the President’s 2016 Budget in Pictures pie charts?  Allow me to point out a few incongruities.

Above, you see the pie chart of categories for the 2016 Total Spending Budget.  There are several more pie charts at the website including pie charts for Mandatory and Discretionary categories.

The first incongruity I notice is that the Veterans' Benefits category is listed as part of both the Mandatory and Discretionary pie chart budgets.  Perhaps there IS an allocation in both categories?   However, in the Discretionary pie chart the Veterans' Affairs category is part of the Defense budget. Additionally, both International Affairs and Military are itemized individually in the Discretionary Budget pie chart, however they are both considered to be part of the Defense Budget category (which is not on the pie chart).  International Affairs seems to be funded as the category of  Foreign Economic Aid (State Department and Intelligence?) in the Defense budget

According to a budgetary pie chart I was perusing a few days ago the "the military budget" is analogous to the Military Defense category of the Defense budget - NOT analogous to the Defense budget with which it is sometimes, and wrongly, used interchangeably.  It was also stated that the funds for the State Department and all Intelligence Agencies are also allocated within the Defense Budget.  But funding for both the State Department and Intelligence Agencies are noticeably absent in all of the pie charts.

Many seem to believe the Defense budget is ONLY dedicated to military costs . . . and yes, it was unclear to me also, which is why I decided to seek some clarity about what seems to be mislabeling.  Is State Department and the collective Intelligence Agency funding really provided for in the Defense budget?   If so, I suggest in the interest of accuracy, transparency, and accountability, that they need their own funding category rather than apparently being "hidden" in the Defense budget.

There are other dilemmas associated with the pie charts.  It seems there is no category for either State Department or Intelligence Agency funding - at least they are not categorized as such, nor under what could appropriately be a Diplomacy budget category.  Additionally, it seems that the category designated as "military" in the pie chart may actually be the Defense category, given there is no Defense category.  Is it any wonder there is confusion about the labels of the categories and what they encompass?

According to a more detailed itemization of categories within categories within categories, it seems apparent from another website:  Government Spending Details, which is about the proposed 2017 budget, that both State Department and Intelligence funds are part of the Defense budget, albeit not clearly listed as such, but present in that budget for all practical purposes.   Looking at how the Defense budget is roughly itemized,  Military Defense is a large category of the Defense budget, but only part of the Defense budget.  

It has been educational to peruse the categories which I found listed in the above mentioned  website.  Since the subject of my own concern, here, is the Defense budget, I have put an asterisk by items in the list, below, which are apparently NOT military related.  Many fit into what seems to be the absent State Department category.  Perhaps there are additional State Department categories not listed as such in the Mandatory budget as well?  Some categories seem to be unitemized, unclear, and unfunded "place holders".  Presumably, they  could be used for anything which likely means they fund Intelligence activities thus might or might not also be included in the Mandatory budget in some subcategory or another.

Personally, I would consider taking State Department funding and Intelligence (including FBI) funding out of the Defense budget and putting it in a category of it's own, say . . .  a  Diplomacy/Diplomatic budget, or at least making it an individual category of the Defense budget.   Would a Diplomacy budget category be appropriate in the Defense budget?  Why not?  The State Department is home to the Diplomatic Corps so when it and Intelligence Agencies (including FBI) are employed for the appropriate reasons, they are being used diplomatically.  And, in reality, Diplomacy actually IS the best defense.  So I could see a Diplomacy budget appropriately fitting into the Defense budget if it were to be more clearly designated as such AND if it were to be more clearly emphasized that the Defense budget is not analogous to "the military budget" but includes many more major categories of defense which are not militarily oriented.

Because of incongruities associated with labeling of “the military budget” I wanted to better understand the budget categories.  It didn’t take much perusing to understand there is confusion between the designation of “the military budget” and the Defense budget designation.  And after looking at further categorizing of the Defense budget I was somewhat astounded at what it includes in addition to the Military Defense category (the designation which actually IS "the military budget").  After making an effort to clarify the Defense budget categories for my own interest I have to question why the “murkiness”.  It leads to questioning whether or not there is an unacceptable purposeful effort to create unnecessary confusion.  Plus, it may indicate the same type of misleading murkiness exists throughout the entire budget - in some way of another.

It is somewhat unclear which Government Department is the abode of our Intelligence Agencies.  Department of Homeland Security?  DHS is not listed in the Defense budget which, based on the name, seem to be the place it fits.  But in reality it is a catch-all "home" to a number of Departments.   DHS is described as "the integration of all or part of 22 different federal departments and agencies into a unified, integrated Department."  But, clearly, the budgeting of it's funds certainly is not "unified and integrated".

Why not be straight forward with budgetary categories?  Diplomacy could easily be considered Defense.  But when there is not a designation of Diplomacy to put State Department and the Intelligence Agencies into, it seems there is intent to “hide” these categories.  It is no secret the State Department exists.  It is no secret the Intelligence Agencies exists.   But it seems to be a “secret” that they are funded and under what categories unless, of course, they are part of the catch-all Department of Homeland Security for which I have found no visible category of funding.

We really do need more transparency and more accountability when it comes to federal budget categories.  Again . . . what's with the unacceptable and seemingly purposeful effort to create unnecessary organizational confusion?  The response of our Legislative Branch in the past year or so to debating and approving a budget is certainly evidence of the prevalence of our Legislative body's collective budgetary confusion . . .  which should not be as pronounced as it has been.  I advocate budgetary categories being analogous to organizational framework categories.  Clearly, if budgetary categories were analogous to the departments of which they are part, budgeting would be less problematic.

To conclude, here are some official government sources: 
The President's Budget for Fiscal Year 2017 at the White House Website.

Budget of the U.S. Government Fiscal Year 2017 Office of Management and Budget, a  detailed 165 page PDF (with a list of contributors)

From the Defense Department website, President Obama's proposed budget request of $582.7 billion in discretionary budget authority to fund the Department of Defense in Fiscal Year 2017 (FY 2017) 


FYI the Defense budget categories, below, are from the 2017 Government Spending Details. The website actually provides all categories of the budget and funds allocated.  Anyone interested in discussing the budget with elected and appointed government officials might find it worth perusing.  There are likely a number of websites presenting the same information in a variety of forms.

* indicates that the items below in the Defense budget are NOT military related but are defense related, in the Diplomatic and Security sense, and would seem to fit into absent State Department and Intelligence (or DHS) categories or; * indicates categories which seem to be “place holders” as yet unitemized and unfunded

Defense budget
    [+]      Military defense        
        [+]     Department of Defense -- Military (not expanded below)   
        [+]     Atomic energy defense activities    
        [+]   *  Defense-related activities
    [–]  *    Civil defense  (nothing itemized/funding not disclosed)        
    [+]      Veterans   (not expanded, below)        
    [+]      Foreign military aid  (i.e.  International security assistance)
    [+]  *    Foreign economic aid
        [+]  *   International development and humanitarian assistance    
        [+]  *   Conduct of foreign affairs    
        [+]  *   Foreign information and exchange activities    
        [+]  *   International financial programs
    [-] *     R and D Defense  (nothing itemized/funding not disclosed)
    [-] *     Defense n.e.c.  (nothing itemized/funding not disclosed)

Some sections as above - expanded:
[–]      Military defense  (3 sections)
    [+]     Department of Defense -- Military (unexpanded here)
    [–]     Atomic energy defense activities    
        — *    Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Fund   
        — *    Administrative Expenses, Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation
        — *    Other Defense Activities   
        — *    Defense Environmental Cleanup   
        — *    Nuclear Energy   
        —     Weapons Activities   
        — *    Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation   
        — *    Salaries and Expenses   
        —     Naval Reactors   
        — *    Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program   
        — *    CDC-Wide Activities and Program Support   
    [–]     Defense-related activities    
        — *    Salaries and Expenses   
        — *     Payment to Radiation Exposure Compensation Trust Fund   
        — *    Payment from the General Fund, Radiation Exposure Compensation Trust
        — *     Radiation Exposure Compensation Trust Fund   
        —     Payment to Military Retirement Fund   
        —     Federal Contributions, Military Retirement Fund   
        — *    Federal Contributions, DoD Medicare-Eligible Retiree Health Care Fund       
        —     Maritime Security Program   (Coast Guard, perhaps)
        — *     Operating Expenses   
        — *     Procurement, Construction, and Improvements   
        — *     Infrastructure Protection and Information Security   
        — *     Management and Administration   
        — *     Salaries and Expenses   
        — *     Central Intelligence Agency Retirement and Disability System Fund   
        — *     Research and Related Activities   
        — *    Intelligence Community Management Account
[–] *     Civil defense  (nothing itemized/funding not disclosed)   
[+]      Veterans (unexpanded here)
[–]      Foreign military aid  i.e.  International security assistance
     [–]     International security assistance        
        — *    Peacekeeping Operations   
        — *    Economic Support Fund   
        — *    Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, Demining, and Related Programs   
        —     International Military Education and Training   
        —     Foreign Military Financing Program   
        —     Foreign Military Financing Loan Program Account
[–] *     Foreign economic aid        
     [–] *    International development and humanitarian assistance         
            —     Mechanism for Peace Operations Response   
            — *    Complex Crises Fund   
            — *    International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement   
            — *    Global Health Programs   
            — *    Democracy Fund   
            — *    Migration and Refugee Assistance   
            — *    United States Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund   
            — *    International Organizations and Programs   
            — *    Contribution to the International Development Association   
            — *    Contribution to the Asian Development Bank   
            — *    Contribution to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development
            — *    Contribution to the African Development Bank   
            — *    Contribution to the Green Climate Fund   
            — *    Operating Expenses of the Agency for International Development   
            — *    Operating Expenses, Office of Inspector General   
            — *    Development Assistance Program   
            — *    Transition Initiatives   
            — *    HIV/AIDS Working Capital Fund   
            — *    International Disaster Assistance   
            — *    Development Credit Authority Program Account   
            — *    Capital Investment Fund of the United States Agency for International
            — *    Assistance for Europe, Eurasia and Central Asia   
            — *    MENA Loan Guarantee Program Account   
            — *    Economic Assistance Loans Liquidating Account   
            — *    Gifts and Donations, Agency for International Development   
            — *    Miscellaneous Trust Funds, AID   
            — *    Overseas Private Investment Corporation Program Account   
            — *    Overseas Private Investment Corporation Loans, Negative Subsidies   
            — *    Overseas Private Investment Corporation Noncredit Account   
            — *    Trade and Development Agency   
            — *    Peace Corps   
            — *    Millennium Challenge Corporation   
            — *    Expenses, Public Law 480, Foreign Assistance Programs, Agriculture Liquidating
            — *    Food for Peace Title II Grants   
            — *    McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program   
     [–]  *   Conduct of foreign affairs    
            — *    Consular and Border Security Programs, Machine Readable Visa Fee   
            — *    Consular and Border Security Programs, Expedited Passport Fees   
            — *    Consular and Border Security Programs, Passport Security Surcharge   
            — *    Consular and Border Security Programs, Western Hemisphere Travel
            — *    Contributions for International Peacekeeping Activities            
            — *    Contributions to International Organizations            
            — *    Diplomatic and Consular Programs   
            — *    Office of the Inspector General   
            — *    Embassy Security, Construction, and Maintenance   
            — *    Payment to Foreign Service Retirement and Disability Fund   
            — *    Consular and Border Security Programs   
            — *    Federal Contributions, Foreign Service Retirement and Disability Fund   
            — *    Salaries and Expenses   
     [–] *    Foreign information and exchange activities    
            — *    National Endowment for Democracy   
            — *    Educational and Cultural Exchange Programs   
            — *    International Broadcasting Operations   
     [–] *    International financial programs        
            — *    Exchange Stabilization Fund   
            — *    Special Defense Acquisition Fund   
            —     Deposits, Advances, Foreign Military Sales Trust Fund   
            —     Foreign Military Sales Trust Fund   
            — *    Export-Import Bank Loans, Negative Subsidies
[–] *     R and D Defense    (nothing itemized/funding not disclosed)        
[–] *     Defense n.e.c.   (nothing itemized/funding not disclosed)