Covering the defense budget

Reporting on the Department of Defense budget is a beast for even seasoned journalists. The task requires an extensive network of sources, a dogged commitment to getting around Pentagon gatekeepers and a keen understanding of the congressional budget process.

But there’s help out there. With the right sources and methodology, reporters can navigate even the most labyrinthine defense budgets, contracting records and weapons systems.

In this “National Security Zone 101” package, we’ll help you navigate with a “getting started” guide and tips for tracking down documents, data and sources.

Keep in mind that these are tools only. They aren’t substitutes for the persistence and ingenuity defense reporters need to successfully track government spending and hold officials accountable.

— Tony Capaccio

Tony Capaccio is a defense expert on Capitol Hill and currently a Pentagon correspondent for Bloomberg News.  He compiled this how-to guide for the Medill National Security Zone.