TAMPA, FL—Few agencies avoided the federal budget ax this year. Then, there’s the military corrosion prevention and control effort, which not only survived but thrived—nearly quadrupling last year’s appropriation.
As approved by President Obama on Dec. 31, the Department of Defense’s Office of Corrosion Policy and Oversight will receive $43.2 million for fiscal year 2012—more than $32 million beyond the President’s budget request of $11.1 million.
“We got a lot of support from all of Congress—all of Congress,” said a gratified Dan Dunmire, director of the Corrosion Office. “Material degradation is nonpartisan. We have to do something about this.”
The appropriation increase is all the more remarkable because Dunmire’s office did not request it.
|Bipartisan congressional support brought the DOD corrosion office a fourfold increase in its 2012 appropriation. “Materials degradation is nonpartisan,” says Corrosion Office director Dan Dunmire.|
No, the numbers actually came from the Government Accountability Office, which has considered the Corrosion Office a good investment in the past and said so again in its annual audit of the office last April.
In that audit, GAO noted a DOD estimate that fully funding CPC activities and preliminary project proposals in FY 2012 would cost about $43.2 million. However, DOD requested just $11.1 million—about the same as last year’s budget.
Citing a 2010 DOD estimate that corrosion costs the military more than $22.9 billion annually, GAO then calculated (using DOD’s ROI estimate) that an $11.1 million investment in Corrosion Office activities and projects would save about $291.8 million. It also determined that funding the shortfall would save about $721.4 million.
In the end, Congress and the President were apparently persuaded.
Not only that, but the GAO recommended that the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (which oversees the Corrosion Office) “include all required elements” in DOD's future corrosion reports.
And it urged the secretaries of each military department “to provide the required information on funding levels necessary to carry out all duties of the corrosion control and prevention executive. As the Military Departments develop the elements needed to provide the full funding levels, they should include the information on these elements in their annual reports.”
This wasn’t the first time that the Corrosion Office had drawn GAO’s support. In March 2011, GAO challenged the Defense Department to increase funding for the office if it could continue to prove its worth. That recommendation was part of GAO’s 345-page report on its government-wide review of executive agencies, ordered by Obama last January.
Details of the 2012 Corrosion Office spending must await completion of the strategic plan, said Dunmire. But coatings will continue to be an integral piece of the effort, he said.
Last year, about two-thirds of the budget went for operations and maintenance; about one-third went to research and development.
Dunmire doesn’t know if that ratio will hold up this year, but one thing is certain:
“I have it all spent,” he says. “Every cent. Every cent is being worked.”