In April 2010, the Department of Defense (“DOD”) issued a memorandum (“memo”) that altered the structure of the defense budgeting cycle, beginning with fiscal year (“FY”) 2012 budget. These changes were ostensibly made to offer more stability to the budgeting process, which prior to the memo involved a more complicated two-year budgeting process where major funding changes were supposed to be made in even-numbered years and smaller adjustments were supposed to occur in odd-numbered years. However, as then Deputy Secretary of Defense Willy Lynn stated, “everyone involved just ignored that second year.”
The new rules replaced the two-year cycle with single-year budgets, which were intended to more accurately reflect current defense needs and budgeting realities caused by the economic slowdown. A second requirement of the memo, however, could have the unintended consequence of hindering DoD green building projects.
The memo requires that the Pentagon’s annual Program/Budget Reviews, or Future Years Defense Program (“FYDP”), to focus on a five-year period each cycle. Readers may recall my earlier post on the recently enacted National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”), which among other things, prohibits the DoD from using appropriated funds to achieve LEED platinum or gold certification unless the Secretary of Defense can certify that the LEED project in question will result in no additional costs to the DoD, or if a cost-benefit analysis reveals that the project will produce a financial payback.
A potential concern to proponents of DoD green construction projects could be the imposition of a five-year “horizon” to determine the financial benefits of energy improvements or sustainable design features. While the NDAA does not specify a time window to be used in conducting cost-benefit analyses, defense officials may be discouraged (under Congressional opposition to seeking LEED gold or platinum certification) from proposing green projects that will have a payback period beyond the five-year FYDP cycle.