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Commander's Guide to Money as a Weapons System Handbook

Handbook 09-27
April 2009

CALL Handbook 09-27: Commander's Guide to Money as a Weapons System Handbook

How to Fund Warfighters

Chapter 1

Unit leaders who use proactive management controls to provide timely and accurate funding to warfighters are paramount to success or failure on the counterinsurgency (COIN) battlefield. Warfighters with timely access to the right types of money and in the appropriate amount can influence the outcome of operations with both temporary and, hopefully, permanent results. However, warfighters and their leaders must ensure their actions will stand up to a Congressional inquiry and must not cause embarrassment to the Department of Defense.

Money as a Weapon 

While warfighters receive training on most weapons systems they will use, most receive little if any training on money as a weapons system prior to deployment. Use the acronym WEAPONS to remember the seven steps in funding warfighters:

  • Work to identify the requirement and appropriate funding authority.
  • Estimate the cost and ensure funding is available.
  • Attain required approval(s).
  • Purchase the goods or services.
  • Oversee the requirement to receipt or completion.
  • Notify the appropriate authorized U.S. government (USG) disbursement agency when the goods/services are received or project is complete.
  • Secure the appropriate documentation.

Rules of Engagement for Funding Warfighters 

The following specific, resource management rules of engagement will assist warfighters to be good stewards of U.S., coalition, or indigenous country funds:

  • Ensure the decision making process considers costs.
  • Look to the local government (such as Afghanistan or Iraq) to fully fund or share expenses.
  • Identify and articulate the need to expedite the process when the attorneys, comptrollers, and contracting officers process the requirements.
  • Possess the legal authority to fund a requirement; the absence of a prohibition does not convey authority.
  • Match the requirement to a funding authority and then determine if funds are available.
  • Abide by fiscal laws, money as a weapons system standing operating procedures and/or other resource management (G8) publications, contract laws, legal opinions, and fragmentary orders.
  • Seek cost reduction measures, keeping in mind that major cost drivers are often "hidden" in the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) and Stock Fund.
  • Be judicious in the use of financial resources; ensure money is used for a bona fide need.
  • Ensure the requirement meets the time, purpose, and amount criteria applicable to fiscal law.
  • Maintain a hard copy of records and keep current year and previous year hard copies on hand.
  • Ensure accurate, timely reporting and maintain files and records as audits and inspections increase in frequency and scope.
  • Institute a robust Management Internal Control Program, make sure it is working, and make timely corrections a necessary.
  • Seek expert advice from the members of the professional community such as fiscal law attorneys, comptrollers, contracting officers, finance officers, and engineers as needed.

Key terms:

  • Commitment is an administrative reservation of funds for a specific procurement of goods or services subject to funds availability.
  • Obligation is a legal reservation of funds for a specific procurement of goods or services based on, for example, a contract for goods or services. Funds are formally obligated when the government has a legal requirement to pay, such as when the vendor and the authorized government official sign an agreement.
  • Disbursement of funds from an authorized USG disbursing agency is made once the agency receives the invoice and the contract and the requestor verifies receipt of the requested goods or services. Verification is accomplished by signing a Department of Defense (DD) Form 250 (Material Inspection and Receiving Report), a Standard Form 44 (Purchase Order-Invoice-Receipt), or other recognized receiving report (such as a DD Form 1155 [Order for Supplies or Services]).
  • An unfinanced requirement (UFR) is a valid requirement with no available funding source. A UFR may occur when funds are inadequate to support requirements or during budget execution as new requirements surface. UFRs rely on additional funds from higher headquarters or from savings generated during the execution of the budget.

Obligation Rules: Time, Purpose, and Bona Fide Need 

Once the requestor meets the three tests of purpose, time, and bona fide need, fund managers provide the funds, if available, via the certification process for the goods or services.

Figure 1-1. Flow chart showing obligation requirements.
Figure 1-1

Purpose rule 

Each category of funds has a unique purpose. Spend funds only for the intended purpose. Determine whether the proposed expenditure is reasonably necessary in carrying out authorized functions of the unit. Ask the following critical questions:

  • Is the requirement approved and validated for funding in the current fiscal year's budget?
  • What appropriation does the requirement fall into?
  • Does the proposed dollar amount for the requirement exceed authorizations for that category?
  • Does the proposed requirement need additional approval authority from another source (such as the commanding general, deputy commanding general, or Department of the Army)?

Time rule 

The time rule refers to the type of money requested to spend. For example, Operations and Maintenance, Army (OMA) funds must be obligated in the fiscal year the funds are authorized and appropriated. OMA funds are a single-year appropriation for obligation but not disbursal. Funds are obligated when the government incurs a duty to make a payment (for instance, the award of a contract). An appropriation is only available for obligation for a set period of time. Authority to obligate expires at the end of the appropriation time period.

Bona fide need rule

The bona fide needs rule applies to all purchases, even by warfighters in a COIN environment. Bona fide need is one of the fundamental principles of appropriations law: "A fiscal year appropriation may be obligated only to meet a legitimate, or bona fide, need arising in, or in some cases arising prior to but continuing to exist in, the fiscal year for which the appropriation was made."

Ask the following critical questions:

  • Does a bona fide need exist in the year of execution authorized by the appropriation?
  • Is there a valid requirement for the goods or services as well as the quantity and duration of the services or supplies provided?

The resource manager is responsible for providing guidance to ensure the bona fide needs rule is not violated and to provide the training and understanding of these rules of engagement.

The resource management office supporting operations, G8, C8, or J8, and the staff judge advocate are available to assist commanders understand obligation rules. Contact one or more of these offices if you do not understand the obligation rules.

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