Military Bases:

Review of DOD's 1998 Report on Base Realignment and Closure

NSIAD-99-17: Published: Nov 13, 1998. Publicly Released: Nov 13, 1998.

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David R. Warren
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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) report on the costs and savings attributable to the rounds of base realignments and closures (BRAC), focusing on: (1) the costs and savings of prior BRAC rounds and estimated costs and savings of future BRAC rounds; (2) the impact of prior BRAC rounds on military capabilities, excess capacity, base reuse and economic recovery of communities affected by BRAC actions; and (3) processes DOD would use to select bases for closure and realignments should further BRAC rounds be authorized.

GAO noted that: (1) DOD's report to Congress provided most, but not all, of the information required in section 2824 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1998; (2) in selected instances, usually because data were not available, DOD either did not provide the information required or did not provide it in the level of specificity required; (3) DOD's report concludes that the four prior BRAC rounds, taken in aggregate, are saving DOD billions of dollars annually; (4) GAO's prior work examining BRAC cost and savings and related issues affirms that past BRAC recommendations will result in substantial savings once implementation costs have been offset and net savings begin to accrue; (5) however, because of data and records weaknesses, DOD's report should be viewed as providing a rough approximation of costs and savings rather than a precise accounting; (6) DOD's data systems do not capture all savings associated with BRAC actions, nor has DOD established a separate system to track BRAC savings; (7) DOD's estimates of costs and savings for future BRAC rounds should also be viewed as rough estimates because there is no assurance that the cost and savings experiences from prior BRAC rounds will be precisely replicated in the future; (8) because the methodology used to identify excess capacity has a number of limitations, DOD's report gives only a rough indication that excess capacity has increased relative to force structure since 1989; (9) however, other DOD studies, statements by DOD officials, and GAO's prior work support the report's general conclusion that DOD continues to retain excess capacity; (10) GAO's work has shown this to be the case, particularly in maintenance depots and in research, development, test, and evaluation facilities; (11) DOD's analysis of operational and readiness indicators have shown no long-term problems affecting military capabilities that can be related to BRAC actions; (12) this general conclusion is also consistent with GAO's prior work; (13) DOD's report emphasizes that communities affected by prior BRAC actions appear to be rebounding economically; (14) GAO also found this to be the case, although its work also shows that some communities are faring better than others; (15) DOD's report suggests that proposed BRAC rounds in 2001 and 2005 would be conducted like prior rounds; and (16) DOD's legislative proposal requesting authority to conduct two additional BRAC rounds provides a good starting point for considering future legislation, should Congress decide to authorize additional rounds.

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