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Defence Budgeting and Accountability in Britain and America: Executive Innovation and Legislative Response in the 1970s

  • Stephen Kirby
  • Andrew Cox

Abstract

The accountability of the defence establishment in advanced industrial societies has always been a problem for legislatures and individuals concerned to discover the rationale of defence spending. This of course has grown as a problem with the advent of the Cold War and the use of nuclear technology. These twin developments have led the armed services and their respective bureaucratic agencies to become excessively concerned with security and the minimisation of public access to defence decision-making. Something of this fear was expressed by President Eisenhower in his final address when he spoke of the growth of a ‘military-industrial complex’, which was able to subvert the democratic process. This was at the end of the 1950s, but the perception that defence policy-making and expenditure decisions are not effectively controlled by the representatives of the people has been a continuing theme since that time. The distortion of the truth in the USA during the Vietnam War merely served to reinforce this fear. More recently, the ability of the defence establishment in Britain to present mis-information as truth to Parliament during the Falklands War, indicates that this problem is not confined to the USA.

Keywords

Defence Policy Defence Spending Defence Budget Defence Establishment Congressional Budget Office 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    David Novick (ed.), Program Budgeting, 2nd edn. (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1967) passim.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Aaron Wildavsky, The Politics of the Budgetary Process, 3rd edn. (Boston: Little Brown, 1979) p. 189.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
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    A review of these changes can be found in Burton B. Mayer Jnr., ‘Evolution of PPB in DoD’, Armed Forces Comptroller, 18, 2 (Spring 1973) pp. 21–26.Google Scholar
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    See for example Lloyd Norman, ‘The Military Chiefs and Defense Policy: Is Anybody Listening?’, Army, 28 (April 1978) pp. 14–25.Google Scholar
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    Michael Hobkirk, ‘The organisation of defence policy-making in the UK and USA’, in Lawrence Martin (ed.), The Management of Defence (London: Macmillan, 1976) pp. 12–13.Google Scholar
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    For this basic argument see: Sir Leo Pliatsky, ‘Paying for defence: the defence budget and the public expenditure system’ (Paper presented to the Centennial Seminar, Department of External Studies, University of Oxford, March 1980).Google Scholar
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  20. 36.
    Lawrence Freedman, Britain and Nuclear Weapons (London: Macmillan, 1980), ch. 5: ‘Chevaline’, pp. 41–51.Google Scholar
  21. 37.
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  24. 45.
    John Ferejohn, Porkbarrel Politics (Stanford University Press, 1974) passim.Google Scholar
  25. 46.
    The point is that there were disagreements within the Procedure Committee about the correct role for Parliament. These views varied between those who thought that any reforms were a waste of time without electoral reform, through those who wanted Parliament to resemble Congress, to those who felt its role should be limited to scrutiny. For details see Ann Robinson, Parliament and Public Spending (London: Heinemann, 1978) pp. 42–53.Google Scholar
  26. 48.
    On the nature of PARs (Policy Analysis and Review) see Heclo and Wildavsky, op. cit., pp. 276–303. Under the Thatcher administration PARs have been abolished and replaced by internal reviews of efficiency and special studies undertaken by two special advisers to the government, Sir Derek Rayner and Paul Channon. On the MOD internal studies see Bourn, op. cit., pp. 15–18, and on the role of Rayner and Channon see Richard Norton-Taylor, ‘Official paid post axed as Whitehall gets lesson in thrift’, The Guardian, 4 July 1980, p. 22.Google Scholar
  27. 49.
    An example of this being the provision of information on the Polaris replacement in the US rather than UK: see Tony Geraghty, ‘Thatcher to put British warhead in Trident’, Sunday Times, 6 July 1980, p. 1.Google Scholar
  28. 52.
    Peter Hennessy, ‘Mr. Mulley angers specialists over successor to Polaris’, The Times, 30 April 1979.Google Scholar
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    Masood Hyder, ‘Parliament and Defence Affairs: the defence subcommittee of the Expenditure Committee’, Public Administration, 55 (1977) pp. 59–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Stephen Kirby and Andrew Cox 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen Kirby
  • Andrew Cox

There are no affiliations available

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