Understanding the PPBE Process

     The Planning, Programming, and Budgeting Execution (PPBE) is a process that allows the Department of Defense (DoD) to “allocate its resources.”

     Moreover, it’s the process in which the Navy aligns a fiscal budget to national strategic guidance and DoD policy, strategy, and goals.  The PPBE process integrates Navy plans and programs, addressing existing and emergent requirements in a disciplined review and approval process.  The goal is to achieve the best mix of forces, manpower, material, and support under fiscal constraints. 

     In other words … the “Best Bang for the Buck!”

     Former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara first introduced PPBE as Planning, Programming, and Budgeting System (PPBS).  Since the Graphic 1 - Pentagonearly 1960s, each service used PPBS to justify, document, and allocate their annual share of DoD resources.  Each service maintains its own method of analyzing and justifying resource requirements to meet national defense and military strategies.  It was not until 2003 when PBBS transitioned into what we know today as the PPBE process.  In 2010, the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) further refined the PPBE process, expanding focus to the Future Years Defense Program, and eliminating the one-year budgeting review.  The following explains each phase of the PPBE process.

     Planning identifies current and future capabilities needed to fulfill Defense Security requirements.  OSD and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) publish strategic and planning guidance for the services.  The Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information, Plans and Strategy (OPNAV N3/N5) and the Navy Director, Assessments and QDR (N81), use these national strategic polices to generate Navy-specific program assessments that shape Navy-centric planning and programming directives.

     The programming phase aligns resources (funding) with defense programs by validating capability requirements, balancing risk and cost variables among Navy programs, identifying and analyzing mission shortfalls and duplications, and suggesting alternatives for minimizing or eliminating programs.  The OPNAV programming phase is managed by the Director of Programming (N80) also known as the “The Bullpen,” and overseen by Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Integration of Capabilities and Resources (N8).  N8 builds the program for the CNO to present to the Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV).  The main products within this phase are the Program Objective Memorandum and the Budget Estimate Submission, which are ultimately reviewed and approved by the SECNAV, OSD, and JCS.

     The budgeting phase develops the President’s Budget (PB) by applying resources into an appropriations account structure, which links missions to requested funding, and presents the appropriation request to Congress.  The Office of Financial Management and Budget is responsible for balancing the Department of the Navy budget (Navy and Marine Corps) and presenting an executable program to SECNAV.

     Execution is the final phase where appropriated funds are managed to accomplish budgeted workloads.  Upon Congressional budget approval and the passage of an appropriations bill, Fleet and budget-submitting offices have the responsibility to execute the budget.

     The PPBE process ensures our constrained resources provide the necessary mix of forces, equipment, and support to the National Security Strategy.  Within the OPNAV staff, certain office codes are responsible to ensure the programming objectives of PPBE process are properly met.  Resource sponsors, analysts, and programmers need to understand the intricacies of strategy, budgetary limitations, and investment priorities to effectively manage individual programs throughout the PPBE process.

By Lt. Cmdr. Charles Tellis, SC, USN, Program Objective Memorandum Analyst, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Programming Division