Military Bases:

Mission Transfers Affecting Ellsworth Air Force Base

NSIAD-97-58: Published: Feb 24, 1997. Publicly Released: Feb 24, 1997.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the costs and benefits of several B-1B aircraft mission transfers affecting the Ellsworth Air Force Base (AFB) in South Dakota, focusing on the: (1) extent to which the Air Force analyzed the costs and benefits of the proposed jet engine intermediate maintenance consolidation at Dyess AFB, Texas; (2) costs and benefits of transferring the Route Integration Instrumentation System (RIIS) from Ellsworth to Nellis AFB, Nevada; and (3) reasons for and cost of constructing facilities for housing B-1B aircraft at Robins AFB, Georgia.

GAO found that: (1) the Air Force's mid-1995 preliminary analysis showed that consolidating B-1B engine intermediate maintenance at Dyess AFB could result in savings; (2) however, this analysis was based primarily on discussions among maintenance personnel and did not include certain factors that could reduce the savings because several important decisions, such as the extent that back-up capabilities would need to be retained at other bases, were not made until later in calendar year 1995; (3) a cost-benefit analysis, including estimated workload distribution, and one-time construction, moving, and set-up costs, was not conducted; (4) such an analysis, using updated data, is needed to assess whether the consolidation would in fact save money and result in operating efficiencies; (5) GAO's analysis of Air Force data showed that transferring the RIIS, a computer-based system for assessing flight crew training missions, to Nellis AFB from Ellsworth, should result in annual savings of about $262,000, primarily by reducing staff requirements; (6) no significant military construction is presently needed or planned for the transfer, however, some modifications may be necessary to meet security requirements; (7) if projected savings are accurate and estimated one-time transfer costs do not increase substantially, transfer costs will be recovered in less than 3 years; (8) the National Guard provided several reasons for its decision to relocate a newly established B-1B unit from Dobbins AFB to Robins AFB; (9) according to the National Guard, moving the B-1B unit to Robins minimized personnel dislocations, avoided costly runway repairs, provided diversified training routes, and permitted collocating the B-1Bs with supporting tankers; (10) other existing B-1B bases, including Dyess, Ellsworth, and McConnell, were briefly considered for the B-1B unit; (11) to put B-1B aircraft at an existing B-1B base, however, would have required activating an additional National Guard unit, while at the same time deactivating a unit; (12) the National Guard estimates construction costs for the B-1B wing at Robins will total about $99.5 million; and (13) construction started in October 1996 and is scheduled to be completed in 2001.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Air Force completed a cost/benefit analysis in March 1998 and concluded that cost savings and operating efficiencies would result from consolidating jet engine intermediate maintenance at Dyess Air Force Base.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Air Force should conduct a comprehensive cost-benefits analysis to ensure that savings and operating efficiencies will result from the consolidation of jet engine intermediate maintenance at Dyess.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

 

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