Military Bases:

An Analysis of the Commission's Realignment and Closure Recommendations

NSIAD-90-42: Published: Nov 29, 1989. Publicly Released: Nov 29, 1989.

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GAO reviewed the Defense Secretary's Commission on Base Realignment and Closure's methodology, findings, and recommendations for realigning or closing military installations.

GAO found that the Commission: (1) made methodology errors in ranking the bases on their relative military value, because it lacked adequate management controls for data verification; (2) overstated total savings estimates by about $170 million and omitted relevant cost estimates, primarily because it lacked sufficient evaluation time; (3) misapplied its cost base realignment actions model in calculating cost estimates; (4) omitted environmental cleanup and Medicare cost estimates from its recommendations; (5) did not include economic impact as a decision factor in its recommendations, and omitted indirect job loss and other economic cost estimates from its analysis; (6) did not specify economic evaluation criteria, and incorrectly calculated direct job loss estimates; and (7) could not use a comprehensive economic model because of time constraints.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should recognize that the need for a management control plan to ensure the accuracy of data collection and analysis is equally applicable to the costs and savings development phase of any future study.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD concurs with the recommendation and stated that, should a similar body be formed again, it will issue substantive guidelines to the Commission and provide GAO's report to the Commission staff for developing their process and internal control plans.

    Recommendation: Because of the significant cost and savings associated with the base realignment and closure program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force to conduct annual reviews of their services' base realignment and closure implementation programs and formally report the results to him.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The DOD Comptroller issued detailed guidelines to the services to calculate and report all costs and savings associated with the base realignment and closure program. The Assistant Secretary of Defense issued additional guidance covering operating policy and process responsibility for base closure program management. Internal reporting of base closure account budget execution will be quarterly.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should ensure that any future base realignment and closure initiatives develop and include cost estimates for all cost factors that are a consequence of base realignment and closure recommendations. These factors would include hazardous waste cleanup or management and medicare costs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD agrees that any future base realignment and closure initiative should include cost estimates for all relevant costs. However, it stated that environmental cleanup and Medicare costs are not costs of closure and, therefore, should not be included in payback calculations.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should ensure that any future base realignment and closure initiatives allow time for sufficient study.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD agrees that any future base realignment and closure initiatives must allow time for sufficient study.

    Recommendation: If the Secretary should establish another commission or internal study group to evaluate base realignments or closures, the Secretary should direct that the process include an internal control plan designed to ensure the accuracy of the data collection and analysis processes. At a minimum, the plan should include the following: (1) uniform guidance defining data requirements and sources; (2) procedures requiring activities participating in the study to certify the accuracy of the data they provide; (3) procedures to check the accuracy of the analyses made from the data provided by the participating activities; and (4) procedures for independently testing the effectiveness of the controls used by the participating activities and overall study group.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD) concurs with the recommendation and stated that, should a similar body be formed again, it will issue substantive guidelines to the Commission and provide the GAO report to the Commission staff for their use in developing their process and internal control plans.

    Recommendation: In future base realignment and closure studies, the Secretary of Defense should: (1) specify the criteria that are to be used in evaluating economic impact, including the impact area; (2) consider the feasibility of using techniques that can measure direct as well as indirect job losses; and (3) provide sufficient time for developing and considering estimates of economic impact costs where possible, including the impact on overall federal budget.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD stated that lessons have been learned on how to improve economic impact analyses. And, should another Commission be established, it will provide the GAO report to the Commission for their consideration when establishing their procedures.

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