For years, the military services had an unnerving tendency to declare to their funders on Capitol Hill just what their old mean defense secretary wouldn’t let them have. It has always struck Battleland as a little too close to kids crying over what Santa failed to bring them. We noted three years ago that then-defense secretary Robert Gates was cracking down on the practice, which was adding, haphazardly, billions of dollars to the defense budget each year.
Now veteran defense scribe John Donnelly updates the apparent demise of such “unfunded priorities lists,” over at Congressional Quarterly. He reports the Air Force, Marines and Navy won’t submit such a list this budget cycle (and the Army doesn’t like to be the lone outlier):
To critics, the practice of identifying items that were not considered militarily significant enough to make the budget and giving them the status of essential requirements represented the institutionalization of pork. The existence of the lists had given lawmakers license to add spending to the defense budget under the cover of military utility. The absence of those lists will make it harder for members to shift money toward such projects.
Progress, even as slow and modest as this, is worth noting.