Military Base Realignments and Closures:

Observations Related to the 2005 Round

GAO-07-1203R: Published: Sep 6, 2007. Publicly Released: Sep 6, 2007.

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This correspondence follows up an August 1, 2007, meeting to discuss concerns about changes in the cost and savings estimates and the potential loss of expertise and experience from the closure of Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, among other issues, since the recommendation to close Fort Monmouth as part of the Department of Defense's (DOD) 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round became effective. The work since the independent Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission's (the Commission) recommendations became effective has been done under the authority of the Comptroller General to conduct reviews on his own initiative and has focused on the implementation of realignment and closure actions. This brief summary reviews our public observations made in 2005 about the 2005 BRAC round, specifically those related to Fort Monmouth. Also reviewed, under the Comptroller General's authority to conduct reviews on his own initiative, is the methodology of a forthcoming DOD report on the transfer of technical capabilities from Fort Monmouth to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.

While we concluded that DOD used a fundamentally sound overall process, we made numerous observations about the department's BRAC recommendations and decision-making process. On the one hand, DOD's decision-making process for developing its BRAC recommendations was generally logical, well documented, and reasoned, but we also identified limitations with cost and savings estimates and certain human capital challenges related to the potential loss of experience and expertise after certain recommendations were implemented, among other observations. Limitations with cost and savings estimates included the following (1) reassigning military personnel could provide a false sense of savings, (2) magnitude of savings from business process reengineering efforts was uncertain, (3) lengthy payback periods for many recommendations exist, (4) there are differences between communities and DOD on cost and savings estimates, (5) savings assumptions for some civilian and military personnel reductions lacked manpower studies, (6) full estimated environmental restoration costs were uncertain, (7)certain other expected costs and savings to the government were not accounted for, and (8) DOD's past efforts at tracking actual cost and savings had been limited.

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