Top AF finance leader: shutdown, sequester causing ‘untold’ damage

  • Published
  • By Karen Parrish
  • American Forces Press Service

Nominees for senior positions overseeing the Defense Department’s special operations, cost assessment and program evaluation, and the Navy testified Oct. 10, as the Senate Armed Services Committee deliberated on their confirmations.

The nominees are Jamie M. Morin, for director of cost assessment and program evaluation; Michael D. Lumpkin, for assistant secretary of Defense for special operations and low intensity conflict; and Dr. Jo Ann Rooney, to be undersecretary of the Navy.

Morin presently serves as Air Force assistant secretary for financial management and comptroller and for 10 months served as acting undersecretary of the Air Force. If confirmed, he will work directly for the Secretary of Defense, leading staff responsible for evaluating plans, programs, and budgets in relation to U.S. defense objectives, projected threats, allied contributions, estimated costs and resource constraints.  The CAPE office is responsible for building the Future Years Defense Plan and plays a vital role in the oversight of acquisition programs.

In addition to testifying on financial matters, plans and programs, he spoke about the impact sequester and the government shutdown has had on the department.

“It’s doing enormous and untold damage to the institution,” he said.

With no set budget, no continuing funding resolution, and with sequestration’s annual across-the-board cuts again looming, “planning in the face of this level of uncertainty is extraordinarily difficult,” Morin said.

He added in what he called uncertain and interesting times, “the American taxpayer has a right to expect that the department will be good stewards of taxpayer resources, that we'll get the most combat capability out of each dollar.”

If confirmed, Morin would replace Christine Fox who has managed the CAPE office since November 2009.

Lumpkin was sworn in April 25, 2011, as the principal deputy assistant secretary for special operations, low-intensity conflict and interdependent capabilities. If confirmed, he will supervise U.S. special operations forces responsible for core tasks including counterterrorism, unconventional warfare, direct action, special reconnaissance, foreign internal defense, civil affairs, information and psychological operations, and counter-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Lumpkin told committee members the position is critical to national defense.

“Succeeding at the tip of the spear requires intensive training, state-of-the-art equipment, speed [and] agility,” he said. “Also important [are] the decisive so-called ‘soft skills’ such as problem solving, relationship building and collaboration.”

He said his operational and policy background on senior Pentagon staffs and before that as a Navy SEAL, as well as private-sector experience, have prepared him to serve in the new position.

“If confirmed, I look forward to working with Congress as a whole to address the national security challenges we face in order to keep America safe, secure and prosperous,” he said.

Rooney previously served as principal deputy undersecretary for personnel and readiness and simultaneously served as acting under secretary of defense. If confirmed as Navy undersecretary, she will assist Navy Secretary Ray Mabus in overseeing recruiting, organizing, supplying, equipping, training, and mobilizing the nation’s maritime forces, as well as the construction, outfitting, and repair of naval ships, equipment and facilities.

Rooney noted the government shutdown that began Oct. 1 has impacted the Navy across its military, civilian and contractor workforces.

For sailors, Marines and their families, she said, the impact is strongest in the areas of readiness, morale and family programs.

Among the civilian workforce, Rooney said, “We're starting to lose some of the most-senior people in the department. … And in terms of the contractor workforce, any work stoppages or anything that would slow down the production will go right to that industrial base and jeopardize our ability to keep those contractors engaged and keep those people employed and moving to conclusion in the program.”

The next few years will require that Navy leaders focus on people and operational readiness, Rooney said. She listed her priorities as supporting sailors, Marines, civilians and their families, maintaining operational readiness “even in an era of fiscal uncertainty,” strengthening the shipbuilding and industrial base; supporting an affordable, sustainable fleet, and ensuring that acquisition processes maintain “the highest level of integrity and accountability.”

Her goal if confirmed, she said, is “to ensure that the decisions made and the plans executed over the next few years [retain] our place as the world's most capable and most versatile expeditionary fighting force.”