Models Used by the Military Services to Develop Budgets for Activities Associated with Operational Readiness

February 14, 2012

The Military Services Use Models to Inform About Two-Thirds of Their Budget Request for Operating Forces

The Congress directed CBO to review the modeling techniques that the military services use to generate their budget request for activities associated with operational readiness. CBO focused on identifying models used to inform the operating forces portion of the services' base budgets for operation and maintenance. CBO included only those models used at the services' headquarters.

CBO found that:

  • Models were used to inform about 67 percent ($53 billion) of the services' $79 billion budget request for the active-duty component of operating forces in 2012,
  • Operating forces (also known as budget activity 01) accounted for 14 percent of DoD's $554 billion budget request in 2012, and
  • Models are one of many inputs to the budgeting process.

Using models does not guarantee good budgeting; not using them does not equate to bad budgeting.

The Amount of Modeling Varies Among the Services

Models used by the Military, by service and function
  • The Army uses models to inform the largest portion of its budget request for operating forces (82 percent of the request); the Air Force models the least (45 percent).
  • Most services model large portions of their budget requests for training and for peacetime operations.
  • The services vary widely in the degree to which they use models to generate their budget requests for day-to-day operations at their facilities and bases.
  • All services model most of their budget requests for maintenance conducted at the depot level.

Operating forces is the largest budget activity within the services' budgets for operation and maintenance. Funding for operating forces pays for the training of combat and support units, as well as the maintenance and operation of most service installations. CBO did not review budget models outside of the operating forces activity.

Definitions and Scope

For the purposes of this study, CBO defined a model as:

Models used by the Military, operation and maintenance

a set of mathematical relationships or similar logical expressions that link a military service's activities, such as training and maintenance, to the cost of those activities.

Additionally, CBO:

  • Relied on the services themselves to identify and characterize any models used in forming their budget requests for operating forces, and
  • Did not compare, audit, or validate the services' models or attempt to identify any deficiencies in them.