Here at BUL, it is our job to be the bridge between the Congressional Appropriators, and the Army leadership. In relation to the Army there are two groups in Congress that are significant, the authorizers and the appropriators. The authorizers are the Congressmen and Women who sit on the House and Senate Armed Service Committees (HASC and SASC). They set the policy for the Department of the Army and the Department of Defense as a whole, with the National Defense Authorization Act. However, they don’t actually provide the department with any funds. That responsibility lies with the Appropriations Committees, the subcommittees on Defense and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs to be specific (HAC-D, SAC-D, HAC-M, SAC-M). These are the members that are important to BUL, as they are the people giving, or taking away, the funds the Army needs to continue to operate successfully. Therefore, it is our goal to educate and inform the appropriators and their staff on various Army programs. The better we are at our job, the more likely Army programs will remain funded.
Outside of the usual briefings and hearings, members of BUL also facilitate travel domestically and abroad, allowing Members of Congress to see Army projects (and Army funds) in order to conduct oversight.
So far the summer has consisted of analysis of the Congressional cuts to the President’s Budget Request in order to determine the impact on the Army. We are currently in the middle of the appeals process, as the information papers on our informal appeals are being drafted and prioritized. Once this process is complete, we will focus on organizing the appropriate Congressional engagements in order to get the prioritized programs refunded as much as possible. In addition, this past week was “Army Birthday Week,” consisting of a wreath laying ceremony, multiple cake cuttings, a reenlistment ceremony, the Army Birthday Run, and concluding with the Birthday Ball this weekend. I had the pleasure of attending and assisting in the coordination for many of these events, which gave me a small look into the history and traditions of the department.
Beyond the networking aspect, this internship will help fill gaps in my knowledge on how the security community functions. I was far from a business or economics major in undergraduate (in fact I actively avoided it), so my knowledge of numbers is slim to none. Applying for a position in the Financial Management and Comptroller division of the Army is my attempt to rectify that. In addition, building further familiarity with how Congress and the Hill functions certainly doesn’t hurt either.
This point also ties directly into why I chose this internship. One of my goals for my time in SSP is to gain as much experience in the field as possible before I graduate. Unfortunately, while in undergraduate my internship opportunities were fairly limited. So now that I am here in DC, I’m doing my best to take advantage of the resources that surround me. Taking this opportunity to work with the Army budget is bringing me out of my comfort zone and filling several gaps in my knowledge about how the appropriations process works and the influence it has on the security community.
Helping the Army navigate this process is how my office contributes to national security. While we don’t have the power to change the numbers in the budget, we can assist in forming productive relationships that demonstrate the success and importance of Army programs. If we do our job correctly, and keep Congress educated and informed on Army functions, we can continue receiving the funding we need to keep this country, and many others around the world as secure as we can.
These first three weeks have been eventful, educational, and full of opportunity. Looking forward, I am excited for the next two months and everything they may have in store.