October Happenings from HQ

Friday, October 30th, 2015


Busy month here at ASMC- as well, I’m sure, for each of you.  Following are Happenings from ASMC HQ….         

I am extending our Membership Renewal Campaign, which was due to end on 31 Oct until 30 Nov to provide more of you the opportunity to renew and be in a random drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card.  Congrats to Agustin Santiago (Twin Cities Chapter) and Gavin Batchelder (Crown of Maine Chapter) who won Aug and Sep drawings.  Renew your membership online by 31 Oct and by 30 Nov to be entered in the Oct and Nov drawings, respectively!

Just a reminder, please ensure you update your member profile here as changes (especially home or email address) occur in your contact info.  Also, we’re working a programming change to enable you to update your chapter designation when you move to a job at another location and associate with the chapter there.  No longer will you need to send a note to us at HQ asking us to do that for you.  More to follow when we complete re-programming.

For those of you receiving hard copy of our Armed Forces Comptroller, our next edition should arrive in your mailbox by 16 Nov.  Special thanks to those of you who elected to receive only the on-line edition, as that helps us with cost savings.  Want to opt for the on-line edition, update your preferences in your member profile. (Once logged in, click “Update Profile” on the left, then scroll down to the bottom of the page.)  Didn’t receive or have not had time to read the last issue?  Read it online here.  

Planning for PDI 2016 is already underway!  We will convene in Orlando for this premier training event 1-3 June.  I hope to see many of you there, as we’re lining up another great training and professional development event.  We will post more info as we have it available at  Missed PDI 2015? You can still obtain great training value by registering for Virtual PDI here.

CDFM training is conveniently conducted year-round with exclusive CDFM Refresher courses offered in two formats, Instructor-Led Classroom Training and Live Online Training. All CDFM Refresher Courses offered are aligned with the DoD FM Certification Program.  Sessions are continuously updated and listed here. For DoD employees who wish to take advantage of the 5-day government-funded Enhanced Defense Financial Management (EDFM) Training Course, the schedule for FY2016 is posted on our website. Use the EDFMTC Automated Registration tool to register for this course. In addition, ASMC licensed vendors are also available to deliver the 5-day and other instructor-led courses at your chapter or organization. Click here to learn more about our education and training offerings.

Finally, as many of you already know, Ernest J. Gregory, a former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Financial Management and Comptroller), past member of the ASMC National Executive Committee, and friend and mentor to many in the defense financial management community passed away on October 5, 2015 after a valiant three month fight against a brain tumor.  Ernie is survived by his loving wife Johanna and his children Maura, Ernest Jr., and Jason.  In tribute to Ernie’s exceptional legacy of contributions to our profession and to ASMC, our National Executive Committee honored Ernie by designating one of our premier annual national achievement awards in his name.  I look forward to presentation of the “Ernest J. Gregory” Comptroller/Deputy Comptroller of the Year Achievement Award to its first deserving recipient at PDI 2016.  Read more about Ernie’s career and also thoughts in memoriam to Ernie here.

Any questions – contact Kathryn R. Grandstaff-Bradford, our Associate Director for Communications and Public Affairs at

Best wishes!

Al Runnels
Executive Director
American Society of Military Comptrollers

Ernest Gregory’s Armed Forces Comptroller Article

Friday, October 30th, 2015


Mr. Ernest Gregory, was a member of the ASMC Washington Area Chapter and wrote this article which appeared in the Spring 2009 issue of the Armed Forces Comptroller.  You can read ASMC's in memoriam of Mr. Gregory here

House passes bipartisan agreement on debt ceiling and FY2016-17 budgets

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015


Today the House passed (H.R. 1314) a bipartisan budget agreement (266-167) that would increase the debt ceiling and set budget levels for the next two years. Seventy-nine Republicans joined 187 Democrats in voting for the agreement.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) called the agreement “a good deal for our troops, for taxpayers, and for the American people.” Boehner said the agreement “will protect our economy” and secure more long-term entitlement reforms.” In addition, he said the agreement “strengthens our national security and brings more certainty to next year’s appropriations process.”

The White House has indicated that the president will sign the bill.

This agreement comes just before the debt ceiling will be breached next week (November 3 according to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew) and the Continuing Resolution, which is funding the federal government, runs out on December 11.

Completing the deal was a goal of outgoing House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) before he left office. Boehner is set to retire on October 31.

The “Bipartisan Budget Act” would suspend the debt ceiling until March 2017, in effect allowing the government to borrow as much as it needs until then. At that time the debt ceiling would have to be raised.

The new total government funding levels would be $1.067 trillion in FY2016 and $1.070 trillion in FY2017.

Setting new budget levels for 2016 and 2017 will put off the next sequestration battle until after the 2016 elections.

Funding increases would be offset by cuts coming from reforms to the Disability Insurance Trust Fund and Social Security, such as closing loopholes and requiring medical reviews Medicare and extending the Medicare sequester into 2025. Some other savings would come from changes to the crop insurance program and sales form the Strategic Oil Reserve.

The new funding limits (in effect raising the spending caps) provides an additional $80 billion equally divided between defense and nondefense in FY2016 and FY2017, but keeps sequestration in place after that. As a result of the deal, Democrats and the Republicans get some of, but not all of what they wanted. Democrats did not get their desired long-deal that dealt with sequestration, but got matching increases for nondefense spending in 2016 and 2017. Republicans got defense increases in 2016 and 2017 and achieved some entitlement reform, but did not get cuts to nondefense programs.

Defense base budgets would be raised by $25 billion in FY2016 under the agreement. Funding for the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account would be increased by $8 billion in FY2016. These increases replace the Republican backed approach to use the OCO fund for base budget activities, highly criticized by the White House and congressional Democrats and the major cause of a presidential veto of the FY2016 Defense Authorization bill. This agreement should allow Congress to revise the bill to make a presidential signature more likely.

The deal would also stops a potential 52 percent increase in Medicare premiums for some 8 million enrollees. This has been a priority for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and many Republicans and Democrats.

If the bill passes the Senate, as is likely, appropriators will move to finish action on the 12 FY2016 appropriations bills before the CR runs out on December 11. House Appropriations Committee Chair Harold Rogers (R-KY) said “it is my goal to complete our Appropriations work ahead of that date to avoid any more delays, continuing resolutions, or ‘shutdown showdowns’ that hurt important federal programs, our economy, and trust in the Congress.”

President vetoes FY2016 Defense Authorization bill

Friday, October 23rd, 2015


Yesterday, President Obama vetoed the FY2016 Defense Authorization bill (H.R. 1735), which passed congress early this month. The president has threatened to veto defense authorization bills throughout his presidency, but this is the first time he has actually taken the veto pen to the defense bill.

Although the president identified opposition to provisions in the bill about detainees at Guantanamo and Congress’ failure to approve requested defense reforms, the main reason for the veto is White House opposition to $38 billion of base budget requirements that the bill includes in funding for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO). OCO funding is considered emergency funding not constrained by the budget caps.

The president and most Democrats oppose this approach because they believe it circumvents the budget act to increase defense spending and could lead to significant cuts to nondefense programs.

In his veto statement, the president called this use of OCO to fund defense base budget requirements “an irresponsible budget gimmick” and charged it “does not provide the stable, multi-year budget upon which sound defense planning depends.” This sentiment has been echoed by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.

Congressional republicans called the president’s veto irresponsible. House Armed Services Committee chair Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) said the veto was unprecedented and reckless and that the House would move to override.

It is uncertain, but unlikely that Republicans will be able to garner enough votes to override the veto. While some Democrats voted for the final bill in both the House and Senate, Democrat leaders believe they have enough votes to thwart any effort to override.

Both the House and Senate need a two-thirds vote to override the president’s veto. Rep. Thornberry announced the House will hold an override vote in early November. If the override fails in the House, a Senate vote cannot hold an override vote.

If Congress does not override the veto, the bill will go back to the committees to try to work out a bill that the president will sign.

This is President Obama’s fifth veto, a historically small number of vetoes for a president. Congress did not override any of the other four Obama vetoes.

FY2015 budget deficit falls to $439 billion

Friday, October 16th, 2015


The final FY2015 federal budget deficit was $439 billion, down $44 billion (9 percent) from the FY2014 deficit of $483 billion. This drop in the deficit resulted from higher revenues (+$228 billion) offset by a smaller increase (+$184 billion) in government spending. In July, OMB projected the 2015 deficit would be $455 billion.

This marks the lowest recorded budget deficit since 2007 ($161 billion). From FY2009 to FY2012 the budget deficit exceeded $1 trillion.

Data on government expenditures and receipts and the deficit are reported in the Monthly Statement of Receipts and Outlays of the United States Government (MTS) prepared by the Treasury Department.

When measured as a percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the FY2015 deficit dropped to 2.5 percent from 2.8 percent reported for FY2014.  This is the lowest the deficit share of GDP since FY2007 (1.1 percent). During the period FY2009 to FY2012 the deficit’s share of GDP averaged about 8.5 percent.

Revenue growth in 2015 was led by a 10.5 percent increase in individual income tax receipts (+$146 billion). Corporate income taxes rose more than 7 percent (+$23 billion) and social insurance and retirement receipts increased by almost 5 percent (+$23 billion).

Spending on health programs and Medicare increased by $106 billion in FY2015. Social Security spending rose $37 billion and education programs (led by higher spending on student loans) increased by $31 billion. Outlays for national defense declined by $14 billion in FY2015.

OMB expects the brighter deficit picture in FY2015 to continue into 2016. However, both OMB and the Congressional Budget Office warn that deficits will begin to grow again due to revised assumptions showing slower economic growth.

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