March 1, 2012  

Monetary misdirection

TO DoD FOR INDULGING IN AN OLD HABIT: shifting known, predictable expenses from the base budget to the supplemental fund — er, overseas contingency operations account — to mask the true spending total. The tell is the $3 billion boost in the OCO’s pay and benefits line for 2013, a year in which troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan will continue to fall. “Budgetary sleight of hand” is how Gordon Adams, a former head of national security budgeting at the White House, describes it. In a year fraught with tough choices and contentious cuts, it behooves everyone to keep the money tricks to a minimum.