DOD official talks to Congress about construction, energy, environmental programs budget request

As part of President Biden’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget, the Defense Department’s official performing the duties of the assistant secretary of defense for sustainment was on Capitol Hill to discuss the DOD’s military construction, energy, installations and environment programs.

Paul D. Cramer told the House Armed Services Committee the 2022 budget request supports the department’s efforts to address mission requirements and ensure service members have a safe and resilient place to live and work. 

He said the budget request also begins to address resilience challenges. 

The decentralized energy system at Fort Knox, Ky., is the only one of its kind DOD-wide. Running at a much higher efficiency level than its centralized counterparts, the installation system is a much greener solution to power distribution, April 20, 2021. (Army photograph by Jenn DeHaan)

“We are requesting $26.1 billion for military construction and sustainment restoration and modernization funding to address critical mission requirements and life, health and safety concerns within our current fiscal environment,” Cramer said. “This funding will be used to replace, restore and modernize enduring facilities to enhance their resilience to climate events, and [it] promotes elimination of excess and obsolete facilities.” 

The department is committed to protecting the quality of life of its personnel and their families, he said, adding the DOD’s primary focus in that regard is to ensure access to safe, quality and affordable family and unaccompanied housing. 

“Our budget includes $1.4 billion to support our worldwide non-privatized family housing inventory, which includes more than 34,000 government-owned and 5,800 and leased-family housing units. This request also demonstrates our continued commitment to modernizing unaccompanied personnel housing, with more than $477 billion requested for eight construction projects,” he said.

With regard to privatized housing, the department continues to prioritize actions that improve the tenant experience and rebuild tenant trust, Cramer said. 

“Our initial phase was predominantly focused on implementing the [Military Housing VI Tenant Bill of Rights] and the National Defense Authorization requirements embedded in those rights,” he told the committee. “The department has issued all policy guidance necessary to implement all rights at all MHBA housing projects. With few exceptions, all 18 tenant rights are now available.” The bill of rights commits the DOD to ensuring privatized housing tenants receive quality housing and fair treatment from the Military Housing Privatization Initiative Project owners that operate and maintain privatized housing.

The Army Reserve is leveraging alternative and renewable energy as part of its initiatives to save energy and increase energy efficiency, Oct. 4, 2016. (Army photograph by Jonelle Kimbrough)

Cramer said his office’s portion of the budget also requests about $3.6 billion for environmental programs — supporting activities ranging from man-critical habitat and avoiding training restrictions to addressing drinking water health advisories — and making the best use of the department’s cleanup dollars. 

On what he called resilient installations, Cramer said the DOD’s goal is to prepare for peer competition, where even the U.S. homeland is contested. “The department is addressing a change of technology operational and policy initiatives to enhance the use of energy and warfighting. To that end, we are requesting $4.3 billion in energy investments, including both insulation energy and operational energy,” he noted. 

That includes about $287 billion for the DOD’s Energy Resilience and Conservation Investment Program, Cramer said. “A significant increase over last year’s requests reflect the significance of risk to energy systems,” he added.

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