Each year, Congress debates and passes a comprehensive Defense spending bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), that touches every part of the Department of Defense (DoD) and its employees.
Here are 5 parts of this year's NDAA debate that you should be paying attention to:
If Defense is allowed to conduct studies on the awful OMB A-76 process, it could lead to jobs like yours being turned unfairly into work for contractors. As we've proved in the past, the A-76 privatization process doesn't save DoD any money. Both the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and DoD Inspector General offices - you know, the people who investigate this kind of stuff – have criticized the A-76 privatization studies for being expensive and disruptive to the workplace, causing readiness problems and weakening national defense.
In 2014, DoD cut the per diem allowance for employees traveling from 31 to 180 days to 75% of regular per diem, and further reduced it to only 55% for travel longer than 180 days. This means that DoD workers on travel will have to pay for more work-related expenses out of their own pockets.
Workers on long-term travel are already stretched thin, spending weeks or months away from their families. Asking them to pay for official travel expenses and incidentals on top of that puts an unnecessary burden on civil servants just trying to do their jobs.
Both the House and the Senate versions of the NDAA include a proposal to convert the commissary system to a non-appropriated fund (NAF) status, which would take away almost all funding to commissaries and severely cut the pay of workers in the Defense Commissary Agency.
These pay cuts would force commissary workers – many of whom are spouses or partners of military members – to pay more for their health insurance, lose their retirement benefits, and become easier to fire. This is not what supporting our troops should look like.
Converting the commissary system to NAF status would also make it easier to privatize the commissary system, which would drive up the prices of goods on military bases, and make the availability of those goods less reliable.
This year's version of the NDAA labels more defense goods and services as "commercial," which would mean that the DoD would have to pay more money – a move that would hurt taxpayers, servicemen and women, and civilian workers like you.
The designation would also take away work from depot, arsenal and other civil servants, forcing the DoD to rely more on expensive contractors – making it harder for us to keep our military ready and supplied for all of their needs.
The House version of the NDAA includes a provision requiring the DoD to report all purchases of foreign goods and weapons to Congress. The draft also requires a plan to identify opportunities for goods and weapons to be produced or maintained in U.S arsenals and depots, and to bring that work into the United States rather than outsourcing it.
By producing and maintaining weapons and goods in the United States, we believe that we can better keep our military prepared to defend the country and bring down unnecessary costs that come with outsourcing this work.