Stories by Caroline Dorminey

Expert Voices

CBO calls foul on the wartime expense fund

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis holds a press conference at the Pentagon on August 28, 2018.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis holds a press conference at the Pentagon on August 28, 2018. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Since 2001, up to 28% of the annual defense budget has been hived off from the base budget into the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account to pay for wartime operations. But a new study by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that since 2006 at least $50 billion of annual OCO funds actually went to enduring activities — that is, those associated with running the military during peacetime.

Why it matters: Take this year’s budget: CBO estimates $47 billion for enduring costs out of the total $69 billion OCO budget. That means almost 70% of the OCO budget is not being used for its stated purpose — to sustain operations and the troops currently deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. This indicates a substantial misuse or misallocation of funds.