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The Crossroads and the Paths Taken Pt II

This is the second in a series of post from Kirk Proctor. See his first post here.



An additional consideration is deciding between authorizers and appropriators among the pre-selected MOC. Authorizers are the MOC that defines the authority of the government to act through establishing or continuing a federal agency, program, project, or activity (1). On the other end of the spectrum, appropriators provide budget authority permitting federal agencies to incur obligations and make payments and aligns funds to policies and programs (2). While both measures are insightful and promising for an Officer's career, the two may lead toward different utilization assignments. 


Like the House of Representatives and Senate crossroad, the authorizer and appropriator decision requires ample thought. Authorizers or authorizations are the Members of Congress and the legislative tool that can establish, continue, or modify an agency, program, or activity for a fixed period. Authorizations don’t obligate or confirm that money goes towards agencies or programs, but rather the congressional tool that allows money to go towards a given item. Appropriators or appropriations are the Members of Congress and the legislative tool that authorizes agencies to make payments from the federal treasury, i.e., allow agencies to spend previously authorized money. Whereas authorizations allow an item for funding, appropriations are the laws that explicitly state how much money can go toward an agency, program, or activity.  


A variable that is unknown but critical to the decision processes in the list of available MOC offices. The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) finalizes the list of approved MOC offices for the services, in which the Army provides a list of MOC offices for Defense Fellows to preference. As a fellow, one could only anticipate if any existing or new Committee Chairmen will be available to preference. The opportunity to view congressional procedures from the highest perspective within the legislative branch will be invaluable, emulating decades worth of best practices and lessons learned from a career elected official. What is unknown is the exact MOC that OSD will approve for preferencing. Serving any elected officials who have very distinct backgrounds who have challenged the status quo through their identities and policy positions will be priceless. Observing how newly elected legislatures navigate the interconnected web of Washington, D.C., will provide best practices in how I can best navigate any professional career. The same goes for more senior members of Congress, who may have decades worth of experience with crafting the nation’s laws and have witnessed the evolution of the body of government outlined in Article I of the U.S. Constitution. Such insight would prove valuable when assessing how to undergo organizational transformation effectively. The dynamic is even further complicated as committee assignments are considered, offering fellows deep insight into defense and foreign policy to also agriculture and fiscal policy. 


After completing Legislative Affairs Graduate Program at George Washington University and completing one year for an assigned MOC on Capitol Hill, DoD Congressional Fellows transition and become Legislative Liaisons (LLs). LLs are assigned to one of five divisions: the Congressional Operational Division (COD), House Legislative Division (HLD), Senate Legislative Division, Programs Division and the Army Congressional Budget Liaison (SAFM-BUL). Assignment to an authorizer MOC typically leads to the OCLL Programs Division, within the context of Programs Division or SAFM-BUL. The Program Division oversees the numerous Army initiatives and priorities, tying the authorizers within the legislative branch to Army staff and commanders. The Army Congressional Budget Liaison Office in which LLs act as the nexus between Army leaders and appropriators on Capitol Hill. Dubbed “BUL”, the office connects Army staff with member offices that allow agencies to spend previously authorized money. The two liaison divisions coordinate all the Army events within the Capitol Hill campus, collaborate with staffers on Army centric events and promote the Army profession through a variety of avenues, playing a pivotal role among the divisions.


The fourth and final crossroads is the decision on my post-utilization assignment. At this point, I will be a MAJ with approximately 12 - 24 months in grade. The Army Medical Department Officer Career Management Pamphlet, or DA PAM 600-4, cites that only the Key Developmental (KD) assignments for Medical Service Corps Officers are Command Positions, even though the corps encourages seeking out assignments that are considered KD within the active competitive category (3). The habit encourages leaders within the corps to advise younger officers to attain positions of Brigade Executive Officer, Brigade S/3, Brigade S/4, Army Support Operations Officer, and the like to remain competitive for promotion. In doing so, most other positions become overlooked and mostly unannounced, regardless of institutional or strategic importance. The dilemma emerges with the possibility of being a Legislative Liaison (LL) for the SECDEF, SECARMY, or one of the several under-secretaries. The Secretary LL positions are seldom discussed and highly sought after. The Secretary LL positions are considered to high demanding roles that require the individual to navigate the DoD processes and policies as the intersect with the legislative branch. Constant communication and negotiation with senior DoD and Congressional leaders, a meticulous approach to policy analysis, and adept maneuvering within the several layered political landscapes are all just a glimpse of what the role of the Secretary LL.  Despite the challenges, fellows anticipate competing for an LL assignment as the opportunity is rare and unique among Officers, especially when compared to traditional Major positions and the vast number of Officers who have served in such positions.


Follow on in the next, and final, part of this series.


 

  1. “Authorizations and the Appropriations Process - Federation of American ...,” sgp.fas.org (Congressional Research Service Reports, 27 August 2020), https://sgp.fas.org/crs/misc/R46497.pdf.

  2. Ibid.

  3. Department of the Army Pamphlet 600–4, “Army Medical Department Officer Career Management,” DA-PAM 600-4 (April 2023), https://armypubs.army.mil/epubs/DR_pubs/DR_a/ARN36761-PAM_600-4-000-WEB-1.pdf.

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