An extension of the continuing resolution (CR) budget cap could create more headaches for the U.S. Navy than for the other services, a recent Congressional Research Service (CRS) report says.

“A CR based on the previous fiscal year’s DOD (Defense Department) appropriations act … can, due to the structure of the DOD appropriations act, cause program-execution challenges for Navy shipbuilding that are more particular than those that might occur for other areas of defense procurement,” CRS says in a recently released report on Navy shipbuilding.

“The paragraph in the annual DOD appropriations act that provides funding for most Navy shipbuilding programs (that is, the paragraph for the Shipbuilding and Conversion, Navy, appropriation account), unlike the paragraphs for other DOD procurement accounts, not only states the total amount of funding for the account,” CRS says, but “also explicitly delineates funding for individual shipbuilding programs within the account.” In fact, the language not only delineates funding for individual shipbuilding programs, but also divides some of those programs further into separate line items covering procurement and advanced procurement, according to CRS.

As a result, a “CR that is based on the previous year’s DOD appropriations act can lead to a program-level misalignment in funding for executing current-year Navy shipbuilding programs. In general, the longer into the fiscal year that the government operates under such a CR, the greater the program-execution challenges resulting from this misalignment can be.”

CRS also reports, “Particular program-execution challenges can arise in Navy shipbuilding when the current year budget for a shipbuilding program requests a larger quantity for a shipbuilding program than was funded in the previous fiscal year’s budget, because the Navy under the CR may lack authority to execute a year-to-year increase in quantity for a shipbuilding program. In programs where there is no difference in FY2012 and FY2013 quantities, differences between fiscal 2012-enacted funding and fiscal 2013-requested funding could create either fiscal 2013 execution challenges (if the fiscal 2013 requested amount is higher) or situations where the amount of funding available in fiscal 2013 is excess to fiscal 2013 need (if the fiscal 2012 funding is higher).

“Programs where the fiscal 2012-enacted quantity is higher than the requested fiscal 2013 could similarly create situations of where the amount of funding available in fiscal 2013 is excess to fiscal 2013 need,” CRS says.

The Navy already avoided a major work delay in the planned midlife overhaul for aircraft carrier CVN-72 Abraham Lincoln through a congressional reprogramming in late September 2012, which converted the CVN-72 work into a fiscal 2012 start instead of a fiscal 2013 start.

But there could still be a problem, CRS says, arising from a lack of sufficient fiscal 2013 funds for the job.

The House has passed fiscal 2013 budget legislation that would keep non-military spending at fiscal 2012 levels but provide new appropriations for the military, thus sparing the Pentagon the effects of a full-year CR.