Rack XN – National Fiscal Process & Situation

Aisle X — Resource Management

Disclaimer: The inclusion of resources here is for informational, historical, and research purposes only and is provided as a service for US Army War College faculty, students, and graduates to support their educational and professional requirements. These may include outdated or superseded materials. The inclusion of these materials does not constitute endorsement by the U.S. Army War College, the U.S. Army, or Department of Defense.

This rack provides resources regarding the fiscal processes used at the national level — authorization and appropriation, for example, that in the US system are distinct. Also includes resources that provide ways and means for assessing those processes.

The budget represents a crucial set of political decisions. Much of what we consider politically important–what the government does, who decides what it does, and who benefits from it–can be translated into the financial language of budget policy.

This rack contains resources oriented on the resource environment external to the DoD. This is the world of taxes, deficits, mandatory and discretionary spending, appropriations committees, and the White House Office of Management and Budget, among others. These organizations, factors, and a host of others determine directly and indirectly how much defense the Nation can afford. This is where the “guns or butter” debate occurs.

Both the Executive and Legislative Branches of our government participate in the federal budget process. In some cases, the two branches perform similar functions in parallel; for example, each independently forecasts expected revenues and expenditures. In other cases, there is a sequential division of labor. The Executive Branch develops and presents a budget request based on governmental needs and an estimate of available resources. The Legislative Branch then reviews this request based on its own forecasts and analyses, adjusts it as it deems prudent, and then ultimately authorizes programs and appropriates resources.

Dennis Ippolito, Why Budgets Matter (2003)

It is important that National Security Professionals understand the political and macroeconomic dynamics surrounding the federal budget process. Once they understand these dynamics, they can better understand the implications for current and future year defense budgets. These implications translate into strategic priorities, and since requirements always outstrip resources, ultimately the management of risk.

— Douglas E. Waters

Currently the rack has only one shelf. Your input will be helpful!

Shelf XN.00 — General

This shelf provides resources relating generally to matters of the national fiscal process. For the annual budget submissions, see rack XB. This shelf is a stub. Please help out with applicable resources!

Faculty Publications:
  • Lord, Harold W. “Authorization or Appropriation” (faculty paper, Carlisle, PA: Department of Command, Leadership, and Management, 2012). Available on request.
  • Waters, Douglas E. and Tom Galvin, “Understanding the Budget Process,” How the Army Should Run (series), WAR ROOM, January 24, 2023, https://warroom.armywarcollege.edu/podcasts/hstar-2/
Laws, Policies, Memos, and Regulations (sorted by regulation number):
  • U.S. Senate, The Budget Control Act of 2011, 112th Cong., 1st sess., Bill S.365 (Washington, DC: U.S. Senate, 2011).
  • Government Accountability Office, A Glossary of Terms Used in the Federal Budget ProcessReport #GAO-05-734SP (Washington, DC: Government Accountability Office, 2005).
  • Office of Management and Budget, Preparation, Submission, and Execution of the Budget, OMB Circular A-11 (Washington, DC: Office of Management and Budget). 2020 Version | 2016 Version
  • The Red Book (Washington, DC: Government Accountability Office)
    • The Red Book is the Principles of Federal Appropriations Law, a multi-volume treatise concerning federal fiscal law. The 4th edition is currently being released one chapter at a time, remaining chapters from the 3rd edition are posted and considered still valid.
Strategies and Reports:
Commentaries (inclusion does not represent endorsement):
Additional Resources (inclusion does not represent endorsement):

Title image credit:  U.S. Army photo, public domain.