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Defense Acquisitions: Better Information Could Improve Visibility over Adjustments to DOD's Research and Development Funds


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Congress recognizes that the DOD needs some flexibility to adjust research and development program levels. A key mechanism--below threshold reprogramming (BTR)--enables DOD to adjust program funding levels without seeking prior congressional approval as long as a certain dollar amount or percentage threshold is not exceeded. In response to a mandate by the appropriations committees, this report addresses (1) the quality of the information available about DOD's use of BTRs and withheld funds in fiscal years 2002 and 2003 and (2) the amount and volume of BTRs and temporarily withheld funds for those years. The report also addresses recent congressional direction on providing information on funding adjustments. DOD disagreed that its recent reports to Congress provide BTR information of limited quality but noted that the issues GAO raised in this regard can be addressed and that DOD was open to suggestions and will gladly work with committee staff to satisfy their needs. DOD also offered suggestions to clarify language on certain issues and to put its use of BTRs more in context. DOD's willingness to work with Congress is a constructive response that can lead to reporting changes that can meet the needs of both Congress and DOD. GAO has made appropriate clarifications of language and overall BTR context.



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