Navy Could Need More Funding Waivers if CR Period Stretches

 In Sea, Forces & Capabilities, U.S. Navy

An undated artist’s rendering of the planned Columbia-class submarine. Naval Sea Systems Command Image

While the Navy is focused on how a poten­tial con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tion could affect the new Columbia-class sub­ma­rine pro­gram, the service’s acqui­si­tion chief on Tuesday warned it would likely need addi­tion­al spend­ing waivers if a stop­gap mea­sure stretch­es longer than expect­ed.

“By far the largest and most impact­ful one is Columbia and so that is the one that’s got our pri­ma­ry focus. The cur­rent CR, as I under­stand it, is a rel­a­tive­ly short CR period – again, it’s a moving target. And so if that CR period starts to extend, we’ll have more impact and more things we’d want con­sid­ered,” James Geurts told reporters today.

Lawmakers have not achieved a spend­ing deal for the impend­ing new fiscal year and are expect­ed to use a con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tion to keep the gov­ern­ment funded once Fiscal Year 2021 begins on Oct 1. CRs pre­vent the ser­vices from spend­ing funds on new pro­grams and freeze spend­ing to the prior fiscal year’s levels.

House Democrats recent­ly unveiled a stop­gap mea­sure that would keep the gov­ern­ment funded through Dec. 11. The bill includes lan­guage that would enable the Navy to put two Columbia-class sub­marines on con­tract as soon as FY 2021 starts and permit the Navy to “use incre­men­tal fund­ing” for the con­tract.

“Right now, for the short­er-term CR as I under­stand it, the Columbia is really the one that’s of most crit­i­cal impor­tance, given that we don’t have much sched­ule margin to that pro­gram,” Geurts said. “And so we are poised to start full con­struc­tion on that, pend­ing get­ting the CR with that anom­aly and then we’ll be ready to go.”

Columbia is the Navy’s top acqui­si­tion pri­or­i­ty and the replace­ment for the sea-based leg of the nuclear triad. The ser­vice is plan­ning to issue the pro­cure­ment award for Columbia early in the new fiscal year, but would need a waiver to award the con­tract if the gov­ern­ment is oper­at­ing under a CR.

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R‑Ky.) on Monday crit­i­cized the bill from House Democrats that includes the Columbia pro­vi­sion, argu­ing the leg­is­la­tion does not pro­vide ade­quate relief for farm­ers. Lawmakers must pass a stop­gap appro­pri­a­tions mea­sure by Sept. 30 or the gov­ern­ment will shut down.

“House Democrats’ rough draft of a gov­ern­ment fund­ing bill shame­ful­ly leaves out key relief and sup­port that American farm­ers need,” McConnell wrote on Twitter Monday. “This is no time to add insult to injury and defund help for farm­ers and rural America.”

Speaking at the vir­tu­al Modern Day Marine con­fer­ence on Tuesday, Geurts said he has expressed how a con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tion would affect the Columbia pro­gram and that CRs have a sig­nif­i­cant impact on sus­tain­ment efforts for Navy ships.

“CRs by their own nature are cer­tain­ly dis­rup­tive. Uncertainty in CRs make dis­rup­tion even more dis­rup­tive. And so I’ve cer­tain­ly been vocal that that’s a chal­lenge loom­ing in front of us. Conversely, our teams are adap­tive and you know – hope for the best, plan for the worst,” he said.

“And so we’re chal­leng­ing our acqui­si­tion teams to be think­ing our way through that. Part of it is to have the work lined up and not wait for the money to come before we have the con­tracts ready to roll and all that kind of stuff,” Geurts con­tin­ued. “So there’s still things even in a CR we can do to min­i­mize the impact. But it cer­tain­ly has an impact on what we do.”

USNI source|articles

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