Author Topic: The Defence Budget [superthread]  (Read 449249 times)

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Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: The Defence Budget [superthread]
« Reply #1825 on: February 27, 2018, 07:06:16 »
I don't know how long those rules have been inn place but, back a few decades, in the 1980s, we had a thing we called "March Madness" when people ~ it was real people, not nameless organizations ~ believed that if they turned any money back they would get less next year so they bought totally useless crap ... millions and millions of dollars worth of waste.

(Anecdote: it was 1984 and both my boss and I had just arrived in our new jobs; we were walking through the staff area leading to the office suite when he asked "What are all those colourful boxes that are on top of so many closets?" I went to ask and reported to him: "they are Dictaphones, Sir (office recording devices) purchased, this year, so that staff members can dictate their memos for production by the typing pools that were disbanded five years ago.")



Many silly rules are put in place to stop even sillier things from happening.
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
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Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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Offline Hamish Seggie

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Re: The Defence Budget [superthread]
« Reply #1826 on: February 27, 2018, 07:17:48 »
And this March Madness continues or at least it did when I was in.
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Offline Humphrey Bogart

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Re: The Defence Budget [superthread]
« Reply #1827 on: February 27, 2018, 07:45:51 »
I remember all the hate I got at my old job when I started throwing out office furniture to try to give the Coord Bullpen a more professional and organized appearance. 

"We can't throw that out, we only bought it three years ago!"

My reply:

1.  Nobody uses it
2.  It sits in the corner along with all that other stuff you bought collecting dust
3.  It's a sunken expense
4.  You only bought it to spend money at the end of the fiscal year

The CAF is worse than a lot of hoarders when it comes to keeping useless stuff.  I am against big workdesks for a number of reasons, they are disorganized, people fill their drawers with all sorts of useless stuff.  They also cause files to get lost.  A gigantic table with no drawers is my style.  An office can have a centralized file cabinet that can be locked should it be required.


« Last Edit: February 27, 2018, 07:51:21 by Humphrey Bogart »

Offline MCG

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Re: The Defence Budget [superthread]
« Reply #1828 on: February 27, 2018, 07:56:28 »
“March Madness” still exists, but the term is frowned upon and there is an expectation that a little more discipline is applied to the process.  Most places maintain lists of opportunity purchase items - things that are needed but for which there is no funding set aside.  As the FY progresses and monies go unspent (or costs shift to future years), there is the ability to reallocate money to buy these opportunity items.

In practice, year end money is usually spent on a mix to disciplined and impulse purchases.

Offline jollyjacktar

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Re: The Defence Budget [superthread]
« Reply #1829 on: February 27, 2018, 08:32:01 »
We don't have it per se in ADM(Mat), they want up to have monies accounted for before end year.  Any surplus goes back.

My previous units were getting more responsible in March and not spending on stupid crap.
Annoying Liberals, apparently I'm doing a good job of it =)

Offline whiskey601

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Re: The Defence Budget [superthread]
« Reply #1830 on: February 27, 2018, 15:39:35 »
If we can't have a system flexible enough to buy gym equipment for infantry battalions (which isn't controversial in any way) than how can we expect to buy vehicles or aircraft with any sort of competency?

...perhaps the egg heads in accounting would rather see the infantry run around in circles - much cheaper than buying treadmills.  The army isn't allowed to buy very much of anything with the controversial word "tread".   

Offline pbi

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Re: The Defence Budget [superthread]
« Reply #1831 on: February 27, 2018, 17:42:55 »
Defence procurement, even at the lowest levels, is seemingly designed to make people not procure anything. As an example- the current surplus in 1 CMBG is $4 million, give or take. But, because the PSPC purchasing deadline was in November, the Brigade can't purchase large items that it needs as nothing over $25k can be procured. So, the Bde will just inevitably turn the money in. the units can't even just buy gym equipment as it's over $25k, which gets you a grand sum of 3 treadmills.

If we can't have a system flexible enough to buy gym equipment for infantry battalions (which isn't controversial in any way) than how can we expect to buy vehicles or aircraft with any sort of competency?

If the Army was a business, it would be out of business...
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Offline Bird_Gunner45

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Re: The Defence Budget [superthread]
« Reply #1832 on: February 27, 2018, 19:22:01 »
I don't know how long those rules have been inn place but, back a few decades, in the 1980s, we had a thing we called "March Madness" when people ~ it was real people, not nameless organizations ~ believed that if they turned any money back they would get less next year so they bought totally useless crap ... millions and millions of dollars worth of waste.

(Anecdote: it was 1984 and both my boss and I had just arrived in our new jobs; we were walking through the staff area leading to the office suite when he asked "What are all those colourful boxes that are on top of so many closets?" I went to ask and reported to him: "they are Dictaphones, Sir (office recording devices) purchased, this year, so that staff members can dictate their memos for production by the typing pools that were disbanded five years ago.")



Many silly rules are put in place to stop even sillier things from happening.

The same attitude exists now, even though we do annual business planning. The regulations though are what drives the need to spend money as they state that all CO's must be within .05% or $3600 on a $641k budget to be considered "successful" which leads to March madness occurring as random things are bought to achieve this magical number. It's supposed to increase our financial stewardship, though the success of this is arguable at best.

Offline Bird_Gunner45

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Re: The Defence Budget [superthread]
« Reply #1833 on: February 27, 2018, 19:28:50 »
...perhaps the egg heads in accounting would rather see the infantry run around in circles - much cheaper than buying treadmills.  The army isn't allowed to buy very much of anything with the controversial word "tread".   

That's the problem though- we really really really wanted to buy treadmills, 1 CMBG agreed to it, and we had the money. The problem is that while we could have purchsed $75k in treadmills the regulations are set up that everything over $25k goes to PSPC, which shut down purchasing in November (except for one 1 CMBG unit that forgot to replace $170k in tooling they sent to Latvia and realized in Dec when they failed an ERV). So, while the money was there, it wasn't something that any Canadian would get upset about if it hit newspapers, and we were going to do all the work to contract, PSPC regulations blocked it as there is no flexibility built in. That's the real problem- how can we expect to buy ships and airplanes in a system that doesn't allow to buy treadmills past month 7 of 12, when all that was required was a signature?

Offline dapaterson

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Re: The Defence Budget [superthread]
« Reply #1834 on: February 27, 2018, 19:34:55 »
That's the problem though- we really really really wanted to buy treadmills, 1 CMBG agreed to it, and we had the money. The problem is that while we could have purchsed $75k in treadmills the regulations are set up that everything over $25k goes to PSPC, which shut down purchasing in November (except for one 1 CMBG unit that forgot to replace $170k in tooling they sent to Latvia and realized in Dec when they failed an ERV). So, while the money was there, it wasn't something that any Canadian would get upset about if it hit newspapers, and we were going to do all the work to contract, PSPC regulations blocked it as there is no flexibility built in. That's the real problem- how can we expect to buy ships and airplanes in a system that doesn't allow to buy treadmills past month 7 of 12, when all that was required was a signature?

Are there standing offers in place?  Plenty of ways to spend money effectively, if there's a plan and people willing to work at it.

Of course, the larger question is what was the original plan for the money, and why wasn't it used for that?
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Offline Bird_Gunner45

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Re: The Defence Budget [superthread]
« Reply #1835 on: February 27, 2018, 19:45:25 »
Are there standing offers in place?  Plenty of ways to spend money effectively, if there's a plan and people willing to work at it.

Of course, the larger question is what was the original plan for the money, and why wasn't it used for that?

There are still standing offers, but none for gym equipment nationally.

For 1 CMBG, the forest fires caused most units to miss autumn training FTXs and Ex IRON RAM was also smaller than predicted as most units couldn't support as much as they wanted due to the forest fires.

In 1 CMBG's fault though is the fact that it spent the first months of the FY acting like the end was nigh with low cost centres, then added to CC's as the situation became apparent. 1 CMBG didn't even put out an operating plan this FY, which is clearly to fault too.

Offline dapaterson

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Re: The Defence Budget [superthread]
« Reply #1836 on: February 27, 2018, 20:14:33 »
So work to get SOs in place for next year.  Adopt LL from this to do better next time.  Develop a plan to spend $20K/ year on the unit gym on a recurring basis.

Lots of ways to get value for money with opportunity funding... and not just by stockpiling dictaphones.
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Offline Dimsum

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Re: The Defence Budget [superthread]
« Reply #1837 on: February 27, 2018, 20:24:05 »
So...I may have missed it, but I have not heard anything from the recent Budget about defence.   :whistle:
Philip II of Macedon to Spartans (346 BC):  "You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city."

Reply:  "If."

Offline Bird_Gunner45

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Re: The Defence Budget [superthread]
« Reply #1838 on: February 27, 2018, 20:53:14 »
So work to get SOs in place for next year.  Adopt LL from this to do better next time.  Develop a plan to spend $20K/ year on the unit gym on a recurring basis.

Lots of ways to get value for money with opportunity funding... and not just by stockpiling dictaphones.

the national fitness equipment was supposed to be in place for this FY, which is why Shilo never renewed the old one.

The initial point is not about SO's or spending money, which is easy. It's about a system that is inflexible and inadaptable, which ours is regardless of standing offers.

Offline dapaterson

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Re: The Defence Budget [superthread]
« Reply #1839 on: February 27, 2018, 21:18:05 »
Lots of flexibility... but it requires planning ahead.  And HHQs that don't wait for months to devolve funding.

The rules have not dramatically changed, yet every year people are surprised by what happens.  Is the problem absolutely "the system", or those who make up the organization who don't ever seem to learn, year after year?

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Offline Wookilar

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Re: The Defence Budget [superthread]
« Reply #1840 on: February 28, 2018, 08:42:53 »
Agreed. If there is anyone in the procurement stream that doesn't realize that spending $75K, at any time of the year, is going to take a great deal more time/planning than spending $3k, they need to be a bit more aware.

I've spent $500K, sole-source, within 4 weeks (in Feb). I've also had purchases of $35K go south months in advance.

Once you get over that NAFTA limit, the SOR/SOW gets more complicated, translations are picked apart (more), and there are a lot more eyes on at PWGSC. That's the way its supposed to work.

Bird_Gunner, I understand your frustration, seriously, been there more times than I care to remember. If the old SO is no longer in force (which makes me wonder what the hell they are doing not having the new one ready beforehand), there are other ways to do it..... just might need to be a bit more creative.

Say.....find a treadmill for under $25K maybe? Buy one now, better than none.

PWGSC may want to shut things down, but they simply can't. The show must go on and toilet paper must be purchased in bulk.

And don't confuse the difference in "spare" operational budget because of missed/cancelled EX's. Usually has very little to nothing to do with procurement of items that are considered permanent. Different pots of money.
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Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: The Defence Budget [superthread]
« Reply #1841 on: February 28, 2018, 11:07:58 »
Lots of flexibility... but it requires planning ahead.  And HHQs that don't wait for months to devolve funding.

The rules have not dramatically changed, yet every year people are surprised by what happens.  Is the problem absolutely "the system", or those who make up the organization who don't ever seem to learn, year after year?


I think that's it. My old boss, the one I mentioned in the anecdote, was surprised, 35 years ago, that this ("March Madness") was still going on when we took over his branch ... maybe he, over the next couple of years, only damped it down, rather than stamping it out, but maybe, also, the culture in the ADM(Mat) Group did change. But September/October is the time when leaders should review spending to date and look at budget realignments to spend efficiently and effectively; Jan/Feb is way too late. National standing offers are great tools but they require regular review and tweaking and people have to know how to use them.

I remember a very wise senior officer (he was then something like the Comptroller General for Mobile Command) telling us (unit COs) that the money in our units' accounts was "real" money, not just numbers that some "gnomes with green eyeshades" moved about in ledgers ... "Those were real dollars when they came out of your bank accounts last spring, to pay your income tax" he explained,"and they're real dollars when a contractor gets them and then gives you some goods or services in return." "They're real dollars that can only be spent once and need to be spent on things we really need, not wasted, because they are OUR real dollars and our parents' real dollars and our kids' real dollars, too." Too many people seem to forget that.


It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
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Offline ballz

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Re: The Defence Budget [superthread]
« Reply #1842 on: February 28, 2018, 16:55:19 »
Agreed. If there is anyone in the procurement stream that doesn't realize that spending $75K, at any time of the year, is going to take a great deal more time/planning than spending $3k, they need to be a bit more aware.

It's not the procurement people tha say "yes, you can go buy stuff now."

Being an Infantry Officer who now works for a G8, the 3rd Division G8 in fact (aka the Div HQ above 1 CMBG whom this issue of treadmills / gym equipment is being discussed), my observation has remained the same since I was a Platoon Commander and now being on the finance side has only strengthened my belief.

We have completely separated the user (ie the "operators" as they call them in the Log world) from the process. There are Combat Arms LCols, Cols, and Generals filling extremely important positions that need to have a Log O sit down beside them and "help them" in order to complete their Expenditure Management Course so they can get their DOA for their own cost centre.

Everyone in the finance world so far has basically looked at me like I have 18 heads when I suggest that Pl Comds should be given a DOA and a small budget. Rifle Coy OC's (or their Coy 2ICs) should have their own Cost Centre and be an actual RC Manager. For some reason this is just a crazy idea, despite the fact that the entire Financial Administration Act is designed to do exactly that... allow the person in charge of something to have the financial authorities required to do their jobs.

Perhaps if the first time a Combat Arms officer (the ones who are ultimately going to fill most Command roles and therefore the only people with authority to really address this problem) sees a dollar sign wasn't when he is the CO of a Unit, and is now too far in over his head and just simply signs whatever the QM tells the DCO to tell him to sign, we wouldn't be so financially incompetent at every level.

I promise you if Pl Comd's had even the smallest budget there wouldn't be a cent left in it at the end of the year. And they'd actually spend it on useful stuff that they *want* to do. I have had this discussion with enough of my peers, they all feel the same way. But by the time people hit Major, they are bred to afraid of and purposefully avoid learning about anything outside of Ops.

Say.....find a treadmill for under $25K maybe? Buy one now, better than none.

That's pretty much textbook definition of contract splitting. In fact, that very kind of example exists in the CDWT course. You are splitting the contract in order to keep the approval level lower.

PWGSC may want to shut things down, but they simply can't. The show must go on and toilet paper must be purchased in bulk.

While that's true, PWGSC doesn't belong to DND so how is a G4(contracts) person supposed to influence this? PWGSC won't touch anything over 25k after November 1st. No one has asked the MND to talk to his peer Minister about the issue yet I guess.

And don't confuse the difference in "spare" operational budget because of missed/cancelled EX's. Usually has very little to nothing to do with procurement of items that are considered permanent. Different pots of money.

Almost all of the surpluses used to buy stuff in March are from O&M. Op Plans are always over-programmed and the costs are overestimated... again... we reap what we sow with financial incompetence.
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Offline ModlrMike

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Re: The Defence Budget [superthread]
« Reply #1843 on: February 28, 2018, 20:11:05 »
End year spending is totally messed up. I have four >5K projects funded in the last week and I'm only certain that one of them will actually succeed, because I can get the cost under 5K and approve it at my level. 17 Wing is up to their eyeballs, and my most time sensitive project is priority number 23. This with one month to go, and the restriction that the goods have to be in hand by 31 Mar.
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Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: The Defence Budget [superthread]
« Reply #1844 on: March 02, 2018, 19:42:46 »
Conference of Defence Associations Institute on 2018 federal budget:

Quote
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
...
Overall, the Budget has a strong orientation of the budget towards social equity issues with the
designation of explicit targets for changing activities and outcomes in keeping with this orientation. This will
influence DND and CAF activities and operations over time as the Government looks for progress in these areas as part of the pan-Governmental effort...

ANALYSIS

Measures Announced Directly Affecting DND/CAF

Nil...
http://files.constantcontact.com/aacbce66101/00e344e7-220a-4552-a2ec-acecfeb7bbde.pdf

Nil. That's all they gender-neutral, whatever, wrote.

Mark
Ottawa



Ça explique, mais ça n'excuse pas.

Offline Rifleman62

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Re: The Defence Budget [superthread]
« Reply #1845 on: March 03, 2018, 10:52:52 »
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/military-brass-shakeup-1.4559620 -2 Mar 18

CBC article re senior appts ends with:

The shuffle comes at critical time for the military, as it begins to implement the nuts and bolts aspects of the Liberal government's defence policy. It will be up to the new leadership to set down the plans to spend the money the federal government has earmarked for the military over the next two decades. Those implementation plans — for equipment purchases and programs — are still being put together, according to a senior defence official who testified before the Senate finance committee this week.

Skepticism about government's spending plans

Asked to provide a list of the department's capital and program spending, Julie Charron, the defence department's deputy chief financial officer, said: "We are not in the position at this point to provide you with the information itemized by project, simply because there may be some delays in the projects."

The Liberals promised to inject an additional $14 billion into the military budget on an annual basis in the coming years. They even went the extra step of earmarking it in the federal government's long-term financial plan, known as the fiscal framework — a measure that required both the prime minister and the finance minister to sign off.

There was virtually no mention of defence in this week's budget, prompting expressions of skepticism from defence analysts, including Sen. Elizabeth Marshall, the former auditor general of Newfoundland and Labrador.
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Offline MCG

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Re: The Defence Budget [superthread]
« Reply #1846 on: March 03, 2018, 11:19:47 »
... finance world so far has basically looked at me like I have 18 heads when I suggest that Pl Comds should be given a DOA and a small budget. Rifle Coy OC's (or their Coy 2ICs) should have their own Cost Centre and be an actual RC Manager. For some reason this is just a crazy idea, despite the fact that the entire Financial Administration Act is designed to do exactly that... allow the person in charge of something to have the financial authorities required to do their jobs.

Perhaps if the first time a Combat Arms officer (the ones who are ultimately going to fill most Command roles and therefore the only people with authority to really address this problem) sees a dollar sign wasn't when he is the CO of a Unit, and is now too far in over his head and just simply signs whatever the QM tells the DCO to tell him to sign, we wouldn't be so financially incompetent at every level.
My observations have been that it is unique in 3 Div to not give budgets to sub-units. In speaking to Engineers who collectively have been OCs in all the divisions, all of the ones from 4 ESR through 2 CMBG and 5 CMBG had owned their budgets.  Only the 1 CMBG guys needed the DCO to approve all spending.

Offline ballz

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Re: The Defence Budget [superthread]
« Reply #1847 on: March 04, 2018, 19:25:22 »
My observations have been that it is unique in 3 Div to not give budgets to sub-units. In speaking to Engineers who collectively have been OCs in all the divisions, all of the ones from 4 ESR through 2 CMBG and 5 CMBG had owned their budgets.  Only the 1 CMBG guys needed the DCO to approve all spending.

I just came from 2 RCR and I know it wasn't the case there. Because we've been having this discussion in our cell, I searched on DRMIS the fin structures and the DOAs associated with them and it appears 2 CMBG is set up the exact same way as 1 CMBG (didn't check 5 CMBG). Also checked out a few units within each formation (didn't feel like I had to check them all based on what I was seeing). Mind you, some units may be giving their sub-units a budget, but there isn't a cost centre assigned to them with their own DOA (neither RC Manager or RC Administrator)* so it's not even marginally better to do that in my mind.

Interestingly enough about your post, 1 CER as well as some other units in 1 CMBG have been asking to have more than one cost centre. That's what's caused the discussion to come up in the office.

*I have seen some varied use of RC Admin DOAs but its few and far between. For example, some Units do have all of their Majors set up on an RC Admin DOA for the unit's cost centre, so it's a step in the right direction... but even those examples seem rare from my DRMISing.
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Offline Colin P

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Re: The Defence Budget [superthread]
« Reply #1848 on: March 20, 2018, 12:27:13 »
I remember all the hate I got at my old job when I started throwing out office furniture to try to give the Coord Bullpen a more professional and organized appearance. 

"We can't throw that out, we only bought it three years ago!"

My reply:

1.  Nobody uses it
2.  It sits in the corner along with all that other stuff you bought collecting dust
3.  It's a sunken expense
4.  You only bought it to spend money at the end of the fiscal year

The CAF is worse than a lot of hoarders when it comes to keeping useless stuff.  I am against big workdesks for a number of reasons, they are disorganized, people fill their drawers with all sorts of useless stuff.  They also cause files to get lost.  A gigantic table with no drawers is my style.  An office can have a centralized file cabinet that can be locked should it be required.

Depends on the work you do, when you still look at 36x36 plans, charts, the office 2.0 stuff becomes a hindrance. I had a boss that was a neat freak, went through our file room, tossed out the complete record of all our archived files, instruction manuals for equipment we still had and tossed out the transducer for the expensive depth sounder, all in one week...

For March madness, we restrict it to equipment or supplies we will use in the coming year, my current department is very good at releasing budgets early and tracking expenditures, so march madness is not that great, working at DFO, they would release your budget in August, freeze it in October and then release a crapload of money in January, contributing to the March madness greatly.