Military Real Property Maintenance:

Improvements Are Needed to Ensure That Critical Mission Facilities Are Adequately Maintained

T-NSIAD-00-51: Published: Oct 26, 1999. Publicly Released: Oct 26, 1999.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the Department of Defense's (DOD) maintenance of its real property, focusing: (1) whether DOD has a comprehensive strategy to address its real property maintenance needs; (2) how the services determine and prioritize maintenance needs and allocate resources to them; (3) promising practices in facilities maintenance by non-military entities that GAO identified; (4) some barriers that the services face in implementing such practices; and (5) GAO's recommendations on how DOD could improve the management of its real property maintenance to assure that the military's assets are maintained adequately and cost-effectively.

GAO noted that: (1) DOD does not have a comprehensive strategy for managing its maintenance and repair needs; (2) although DOD planned to pay for development of an overall real property maintenance plan in fiscal year 1999, it shifted these funds to other priorities in early 1999; (3) similarly, although DOD instructed the services in 1997 to provide sufficient funding by 2003 to meet three-fourths of their estimated real property maintenance needs, DOD eliminated this goal in 1999, leaving it up to the services to decide how much to budget for maintenance; (4) in the absence of a comprehensive DOD strategy, each service sets its own standards for maintaining its property, using different methods to assess property conditions, prioritize repairs, and allocate funds for maintenance and repairs; (5) as a result, a barracks rated "satisfactory" by one service could be rated as "unsatisfactory" by another; (6) also, bases and major commands within services apply their own rating criteria differently; (7) the services have different maintenance funding goals through 2005 and plan to fund repairs below the levels required to keep facilities at current conditions; (8) therefore, the backlog of repairs, some rated critical, will increase; (9) the amount varies by service; (10) GAO found a number of promising practices in the maintenance area among nonmilitary entities, such as: (a) using a single system for counting the number and type of facilities; (b) having a single, engineering-based system for assessing facility conditions, carried out by adequately trained personnel; and (c) prioritizing budget allocations based on common criteria across all facilities, including physical condition, relevance of facilities to the mission, and life cycle costing and budgeting; (11) none of the military services has implemented all the promising practices; and (12) adoption of these practices is hampered by several barriers, including: (a) the use of real property maintenance funds for other operations and maintenance purposes; (b) differing standards among the services for the square footage allotted to the same types of facilities (e.g., the number of square feet per administrative worker), making it difficult to control maintenance costs; (c) the use of multiple budget accounts to pay for real property maintenance, which makes it difficult to determine the total cost of maintaining facilities; and (d) incomplete and non-comparable maintenance and repair data, which prevents meaningful comparison by DOD and Congress of the urgency of the services' requests for funding repairs.

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