The Navy is unable to start or ramp up a range of major programs under a continuing resolution, and Pentagon officials are urging the quick passage of a full FY 2018 budget.
Lawmakers passed a continuing resolution, which runs through Dec. 8, that funds the beginning of this fiscal year at last year’s levels. Top Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said in an Oct. 5 press conference that “the longer the CR lasts, the more damage they do,” and urged “Congress to be good stewards of the American people’s dollars and ensure we get a full FY ’18 budget by December 8th.”
For the Navy, the bulk of its top procurement programs cannot move forward as planned under a continuing resolution – which holds individual programs to their previous year’s funding levels, which means no acquisition rate increases and no new program starts.
Navy spokesman Lt. Seth Clarke told USNI News that the Navy intends to award new contracts for the following programs in the first half of the year: the John Lewis-class T-AO fleet oiler, the T-ATS towing and salvage ship, the LCU 1700 amphibious surface connector, the MQ-4 Triton unmanned aerial vehicle, the Small Diameter Bomb II, the Harpoon Block II anti-ship missile, and “shipbuilding cost to complete” contracts to finalize ships purchased in previous fiscal years.
The Navy tends to avoid planning contract actions in the first quarter of the fiscal year, since the last nine years have begun under a continuing resolution. However, there is a concern that the Dec. 8 deadline could be meet with a CR extension – in FY 2017, the CR was extended until the end of April, making it exceedingly difficult on contracting officials to tread water under the CR until a full budget was finally passed.
The Navy did not specify if any contracting actions were scheduled to take place between now and December but rather warned about the longer-term impact of having a longer-duration CR this year.
Additionally, several programs are set for acquisition rate increases this year, which cannot take place until the full FY 2018 budget is passed. At risk is advance procurement funding for the Columbia-class ballistic-missile submarine, Virginia-class attack submarine and the T-AO fleet oiler; and procurement funding for the John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) aircraft carrier, the Virginia-class sub program, Ship to Shore Connector landing craft replacement, the Hellfire air-to-surface missile, CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter, F-35B Joint Strike Fighter vertical landing variant, Littoral Combat Ship mission module weapons, AIM-9X multi-mission missile, and the Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM).
Finally, three major new-start research programs cannot begin until a final budget is passed: Advanced Combat Systems Technology, which includes funding for projects such as rapid prototyping, swarming unmanned systems, implementation of the Naval Open Systems Architecture strategy and more; Other Helicopter Development in support of upgrades to current platforms and development of the Future Vertical Lift family of platforms; and Mine Development in support of offensive mining operations.