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Overview of Department of Defense Budget Process

The following is the Nov. 12, 2021, Congressional Research Service report, The Department of Defense (DOD) Budget: An Orientation.

From the report

This report presents a concise but comprehensive description of the Department of Defense (DOD) budget, outlining the agency’s major activities as identified in its annual funding request.

Because of DOD’s size and the scope and scale of its activities, a baseline of information about the agency may be of use to Members of Congress whose focus is on other aspects of federal policy. DOD’s annual budget typically accounts for about half of the federal government’s discretionary spending in a fiscal year, often making it a factor in congressional deliberations about spending for other activities of the federal government. Moreover, in the course of its routine operations, DOD engages with—or has a considerable impact on—a broad range of public policy issues as diverse as natural resource management, national science and technology policy, regional economic development, and labor relations.

This report reviews elements of the FY2022 DOD budget request released by the executive branch on May 28, 2021. CRS’s analysis uses data and categories of funds included in publicly available documents released by the Undersecretary of Defense (Comptroller).

The Biden Administration requested $715.0 billion in discretionary budget authority for DOD in FY2022. This amounts to 49% of all discretionary spending requested for that fiscal year. In general, the following analysis divides the budget request into groupings that correspond to major sections (or “titles”) of the annual defense authorization and appropriations bills: military personnel, operation and maintenance, procurement, and research and development (R&D). A fifth section incorporates funding for the Defense Health Program and several smaller components of the DOD budget that the defense appropriation bill treats in two separate titles. The budget for military construction, the sixth section of this analysis, is covered by a separate appropriations bill, which also funds the Department of Veterans Affairs and other agencies.

The report discusses each of those aspects of the budget, explores their constituent parts, and cites relevant CRS products that elaborate on those subjects.

All dollar amounts cited in this report are in discretionary budget authority.

Download the document here.