Show Me the Money!

How does USAG Schweinfurt get its money, and what determines how it is spent?

As a result of our national economic situation and what many refer to as our new “fiscal reality,” one of the questions many people ask is, How is the government spending our money?

This is a good question and as taxpayers, we all deserve the answer. Locally, the questions asked are, How is the garrison spending our money?  How do we, as a garrison, get and spend the money from Congress?  How do we decide where and when to spend it?  How can the community help?  This discussion will answer these questions.

image courtesy of Leslie Brians, USAG Schweinfurt Public Affairs Office

image courtesy of Leslie Brians, USAG Schweinfurt Public Affairs Office.  Click to enlarge.

Every year, each garrison submits its funding requirements up through the Installation Management Command (IMCOM) to the Department of the Army (DA). These requirements go up in a very specific format and are grouped as categories such as Army Family Housing (AFH), public works, facility maintenance, physical security, force protection, Army Community Services (ACS), and so on. They then consolidate these requirements from across the Army and send their overall budget request to Congress. At our garrison, we develop our requirements based on our historical and expected costs to operate.

At the beginning of each fiscal year in October, Congress allocates funding back down to DA to IMCOM and then to the garrisons. This funding comes down to us in the same categories as the requirements. The money in these categories is managed by accounts, and, by law and Army guidance, we can only spend money from one account on the specific items authorized for that account.

What this means at the garrison level is that we cannot spend housing money on gate guards, nor can we spend public works money on MWR operations. You get the point.

They are all in their own accounts. Unfortunately, not all accounts are funded to the same level. Some are funded at 100 percent, others at 50 percent and so on. This can lead to confusion and frustration in the community because the varied funding levels result in different service levels by program, even between garrisons.

A model of the new gazebos on Askren Manor, completed in March 2012.  The funding for this project was appropriated before the closure of the base was announced in February 2012. Photo courtesy of USAG DPW.

A model of the new gazebos on Askren Manor, completed in March 2012. The funding for this project was appropriated before the closure of the base was announced in February 2012. Photo courtesy of USAG DPW.

This is how we can spend money to renovate and improve housing units while we have to decrease another program because it was not fully funded. From the outside, this looks like we are not prioritizing correctly and funding things without an overall strategy. That would be true if all the money came to us in one big pot and we had a choice as to which account or category we spent it on, but as I have explained, we can only spend the money in the account that it was given.

The only way to get more funding to use is by saving money on a program after we have been given funding for it.  An example is our energy consumption. The less energy we use results directly in

more money for the garrison. If we get $10 million for our expected energy bill account and we reduce our use by as little as 5 percent, we achieve a savings of $500,000.

At the end of the day, our goal is the same: to get the most bang for our bucks. We want to stretch every dollar as far as possible through creative and engaged stewardship and management on the part of everyone. To this end, we are highly successful.

We are currently operating the garrison with 1998 funding levels and are providing most base operations services at 2010 levels. As we move toward closure, our team will continue to provide quality services at the best cost.

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