Guam Needs Timely Information from DOD to Meet Challenges in Planning and Financing Off-Base Projects and Programs to Support a Larger Military Presence
GAO-10-90R: Published: Nov 13, 2009. Publicly Released: Nov 13, 2009.
The Department of Defense's (DOD) plans to increase the U.S. military presence on Guam are expected to increase the island's current military population by about two and a half times by 2020. If implemented as planned, this realignment would increase the military population on Guam from about 15,000 in 2009 to about 29,000 in 2014, and to more than 39,000 by 2020, which will increase the current island population of 178,430 by about 14 percent over those years. The government of Guam established the Civilian-Military Task Force in April 2006 to identify and develop cost estimates for potential nondefense projects and programs needed to support the larger military presence. To determine the processes used by the government of Guam to develop cost estimates for off-base projects and programs to support a larger military and civilian population resulting from the military buildup, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) obtained and analyzed studies and assessments used by the government of Guam to develop the cost estimates. GAO also examined the government of Guam's fiscal year 2010 budget request. GAO conducted this performance audit from March 2009 through November 2009 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. Those standards require that GAO plan and perform the audit to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for GAO's findings and conclusions based on their audit objectives.
The processes used by the government of Guam to develop the key cost estimates for planned off-base projects and programs varied depending on project or program value, complexity, and size; whether independent consultants provided input; and the extent to which DOD provided data to help set project requirements. As a result, the estimates prepared to date vary in quality, and the overall costs to develop supporting off-base infrastructure are still uncertain. The government of Guam faces two key challenges in financing off-base infrastructure projects and programs required to support a larger military and civilian population resulting from the military buildup. First, the impact of Guam's debt ceiling on the ability of the government of Guam to incur debt to help fund off-base projects and programs is uncertain. Second, the government of Guam's operating deficit was approximately $415 million at the time of GAO's review, and this deficit can affect Guam's ability to borrow because of questions about the extent to which additional debt service payments are affordable.