Classified spending has edged up faster than overall defense budget requests, and accounts for nearly 11 percent of the $716 billion proposed for 2020.
The share of Pentagon spending hidden from public view is rising, as are defense contractors’ revenues from it.
The U.S. Defense Department’s overall budget request increased nearly 5 percent from 2019 to 2020, but classified spending rose 6 percent, according to the consulting firm Avascent. It accounts for about $76 billion, or almost 11%, of the $718 billion requested for the current fiscal year.
Military officials say they can’t talk about classified aircraft, space, and missile projects, lest they cede advantage to America’s enemies. (Critics, including House Armed Services Committee Chair Adam Smith, D-Wash., say excessive hidden spending hinders oversight, leads to waste, and undermines public trust.)
But there is one group of people talking about classified spending: the executives of America’s largest defense firms. In recent months, what defense contractors call “restricted” projects have become a hot topic on quarterly earnings calls with Wall Street analysts. Firms also tout the increase in classified contracts in annual reports and regulatory filings.
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