Defense Infrastructure:

Factors Affecting U.S. Infrastructure Costs Overseas and the Development of Comprehensive Master Plans

GAO-04-609NI: Published: Jul 15, 2004. Publicly Released: Jul 15, 2004.

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Since the end of the Cold War, U.S. military overseas presence has changed dramatically. The Department of Defense (DOD) has been reexamining overseas basing requirements, and it expects to make a number of changes to provide greater flexibility for U.S. forces in Western Europe and Northeast Asia. Concerns over the potential use of funds for what may soon be obsolete basing projects prompted congressional action directing DOD to prepare and submit with next year?s budget request comprehensive master plans for changing infrastructure requirements under each overseas command. GAO was also directed to report on the development and implementation of these plans. GAO completed an advance review to identify opportunities to make the plans more informative for Congress and DOD in their oversight responsibilities. This report addresses: (1) the development of overseas regional commands? comprehensive master plans, and (2) the factors affecting U.S. infrastructure costs overseas and the development and implementation of comprehensive master plans.

At the time of our review, overseas regional commands had not yet begun developing the comprehensive master plans required to be submitted with the fiscal year 2006 budget submission in early 2005, but are working on creating and implementing plans for installations that they believe will have an enduring presence. According to command officials, the development of the master plans depends upon the outcome of the not-yet-completed DOD effort to develop an Integrated Global Presence and Basing Strategy, as well as guidance that the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) is finalizing for the regional commands. In March 2003, the Secretary of Defense requested that the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, develop an Integrated Global Presence and Basing Strategy that may change the global positioning of forces and the supporting infrastructure overseas. Until results of the strategy are released and OSD guidance is finalized, command officials are limiting their development and implementation of the master plans to installations that they believe will have an enduring presence. These plans include moving military personnel from near the demilitarized zone to other sites in South Korea; reducing U.S forces' land use by over 12,000 acres in Okinawa, Japan; and consolidating 13 installations into a single location near Grafenwohr, Germany. Various factors can affect U.S. infrastructure costs overseas and the development and implementation of the overseas regional commands' comprehensive master plans. These factors include cash and other cost burden-sharing contributions from host nations; property returns to host nations; the environmental remediation of property returned to host nations; and the receipt of residual value from host nations for returned property. The extent to which these factors affect costs can vary by regional command and by international agreements reached with host nations. Furthermore, overseas commands have several U.S. sources to help fund ongoing and future infrastructure changes, including operation and maintenance and contingency operations appropriations in addition to military construction appropriations, which includes exercise-related construction. GAO agrees that OSD's preliminary guidance?directing the overseas regional commands to address the precise facility requirements, properties being returned to host nations, funding requirements, and the division of funding responsibilities between the United States and cognizant host nations in their comprehensive master plans?is appropriate. However, the extent to which the commands? plans and status reports will address other factors--such as residual property value and environmental remediation issues, and multiple U.S. funding sources?that are not clearly specified by congressional or OSD's preliminary guidance remains unclear. Addressing the applicability of these factors in the development of the master plans and annual status reports would make them more useful to the services and overseas regional commands in managing U.S. military infrastructure and associated costs overseas, and provide Congress and OSD with more complete information for their oversight responsibilities.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On October 5, 2005, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics issued additional guidance to the Secretaries of the Military Departments and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for updating overseas master plans for fiscal year 2007. Within this guidance, the Under Secretary directed that the fiscal year 2007 plans address environmental issues to the extent they exist or are known. In addition, the guidance directs that a table within the plans and the preceding narrative address, at a minimum, expected U.S. and host nation funding levels. The guidance also requires that the military service calculate the amount of U.S. facility sustainment funding for inclusion in the plans' narrative.

    Recommendation: To make future comprehensive master plans and periodic reporting to Congress on their implementation more useful in managing U.S. military infrastructure and associated costs and more informative for Congress and OSD in their oversight responsibilities, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to require that overseas regional commanders address the extent to which implementation of their master plans will be affected by residual property value and environmental remediation issues, as well as multiple U.S. funding sources available to support future infrastructure changes and include this information in their comprehensive master plans.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On October 5, 2005, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics issued additional guidance to the Secretaries of the Military Departments and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for updating overseas master plans for fiscal year 2007. Within this guidance, the Under Secretary directed that the fiscal year 2007 plans address environmental issues to the extent they exist or are known. In addition, the guidance directs that a table within the plans and the preceding narrative address, at a minimum, expected U.S. and host nation funding levels. The guidance also requires that the military service calculate the amount of U.S. facility sustainment funding for inclusion in the plans' narrative.

    Recommendation: To make future comprehensive master plans and periodic reporting to Congress on their implementation more useful in managing U.S. military infrastructure and associated costs and more informative for Congress and OSD in their oversight responsibilities, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to require that overseas regional commanders provide updated information on the applicability of residual property value and environmental remediation issues and multiple U.S. funding sources in their annual status reports to Congress on the master plans.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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