Quick Observations on NDAA in Light of the Biden “Whole-of-Government” Agenda

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Across the board, the Biden administration’s policies call for agencies to “prioritize action on climate change in their policy-making and budget processes, in their contracting and procurement, and in their engagement with State, local, Tribal, and territorial governments; workers and communities; and leaders across all the sectors of our economy.”

The Department of Defense (DOD), its vast size and spending notwithstanding, has traditionally been left out of the regulatory cost mix. That was never plausible, given its massive procurement heft and research spending that heavily influences the private sector. A $768 defense bill was just signed only in December 2021 to fund a DOD already writing suspect official reports to the effect that climate change is the greatest risk to national security. Along with riders already under consideration, policymakers need to rethink that mindset in the new National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) negotiations.

Policy makers must be aware before issuing a blank or semi-blank-check NDAA that, as another whole-of-government climate move, the DOD teamed up with the General Services Administration and National Aeronautics and Space Administration on a proposal “to ensure that major Federal agency procurements minimize the risk of climate change

Before this latest climate-spending foray, the U.S. government (while accusing several industries in the private sector of antitrust and competitiveness abuses) was already the “world’s largest purchaser of goods and services, to the tune of $500 billion a year in annual contracts, an extent that would be damned as monopsony if anyone else were doing it. The federal government is also the “nation’s largest employer.”

Given these concerns over massive government growth and influence, policy makers need to better appreciate the degree to which government spending—including in the NDAA—is crowding out the private sector and leading to an unprecedented surge in new regulation and interference.

For more see Ten Thousand Commandments 2022: An Annual Policymaker’s Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State.