Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Defense Officials: Operating Under Continuing Resolutions Can Impact Small Businesses

Over the last few weeks I've heard several Obama Administration officials suggest that operating on short term continuing resolutions can be detrimental to government programs. Whether it was in official testimony or one on one conversations I had with them, these officials highlighted how operating on continuing resolutions (CR) has resulted in the government delaying the implementation of certain programs. In what appears to be a coordinated effort, however, they stepped up the rhetoric yesterday and highlighted how repeated short term CRs can actually have a negative impact on small businesses who do business with the government.

A prime example of this can be seen in testimony that Zack Lemnios, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, gave to a subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee this afternoon. When speaking about how there are many small businesses who help the Department of Defense develop technology that supports our troops, Lemnios said that long term stable funding is needed “to ensure that many of our small businesses that develop those capabilities in fact stay in business. Operating under a long CR, or well below the Presidents FY 2011 budget request, puts both at risk and results in both the loss of time and the ability to support our troops.”

Now I had some people suggest to me yesterday that this gets dangerously close to suggesting that you can't support the troops if you are drastically cutting the DoD's budget, but that isn't what's being said. Lemnios and other Defense officials are simply highlighting how the uncertainty of the CR can cause delays of crucial programs and doesn't do good for our small businesses. This is especially important when you consider that we still have men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and our country is recovering for the toughest economic times since the great depression.

It appears as though that message is being heard by folks in Congress because Rep. Steny Hoyer took to the floor of the House of Representatives yesterday and said that we need to pass a long term budget plan so that "all who rely on the government, who work for the government, who have contracts with the government, can rely on some certainty. You've talked a lot about certainty on your side of the aisle. You're absolutely right, we need certainty. The business community needs certainty, individuals need certainty, and the government needs certainty."

While there is still work that needs to be done on making sure a CR passes that would fund the government for the rest of FY2011, hearings and discussions are already taking place regarding the 2012 budget. The unpredictability about which programs might be cut during the next debate on a CR has already caused some harm and to continue this process for another year would simply be irresponsible. In the end, it's not just the DoD that would suffer if this isn't accomplished. There are thousands of civilian jobs and small businesses that depend on Defense projects that could be delayed (or cut all together) if an actual 2012 budget isn't passed.

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