Pentagon Orders Spending Cuts to Stay Within Deficit-Reduction Limit
The deficit-reduction drive and government accounting practices prompted the Pentagon on Friday to stop buying office supplies, ban overtime and limit civilian hiring for at least six weeks.
All new contracts for research and development also have been put on hold temporarily, as have purchases of everything from magazine and newspaper subscriptions to television sets, library materials, recreation equipment, lawn mowers and furniture.
Tools, paint, lumber, air conditioners and forklifts also are on the prohibited list.
The restrictions, ordered by Deputy Defense Secretary William H. Taft IV, will remain in place at least through June 30.
They were prompted by the terms of a deficit-reduction compromise reached by President Reagan and Congress last November. That compromise was crafted to control government outlays--the amount of money actually spent during a fiscal year.
Taft said the Pentagon estimated fiscal 1988 outlay in the deficit-reduction agreement is $277.3 billion.
Based on spending reports received in March and April, the Defense Department is paying out dollars at a rate that by the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30 would put outlays at about $2.5 billion more than $277.3 billion, Taft said.
Although the outlay totals for those two months might be “an aberration” and spending might even out in future months, the Pentagon cannot take any chances, Taft said, “so we are trying to get at discretionary spending that can be deferred for six weeks. . . . “