Proposals for Enhancing DOD's Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Construction Program

FPCD-80-67: Published: Aug 27, 1980. Publicly Released: Sep 11, 1980.

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The Department of Defense (DOD) considers morale, welfare, and recreation (MWR) activities important to unit identity and improved readiness of service members. However, the readiness of construction programs for facilities to house activities such as sports, libraries, arts and crafts, and military clubs do not always insure that the most urgent needs of active duty personnel are being met.

GAO found that the services have been operating under a fiscal environment of escalating construction costs, budgetary constraints, and a large backlog of facility needs which cannot presently be funded. DOD had approved some facility construction projects which were larger than needed, inadequately planned, not adequately documented as to the need, or intended primarily for other than active duty personnel. The need for MWR facilities is particularly important at overseas locations where few recreational opportunties exist in the surrounding community or where the cost of using available facilities is prohibitive. However, the services are directing the major portion of funding emphasis to installations in the continental United States (CONUS). Of $103 million in construction costs in fiscal year 1979, $70 million was spent for construction in CONUS. Strengthening the project planning, review, approval, and funding processes would help insure that projects constructed fulfill the most urgent needs. DOD has initiated recent program improvements. However, the programs still do not insure that: (1) projects developed are the most cost-effective size to meet the needs of active duty personnel; (2) the review and approval processes adequately place priorities and document needs to insure that the most urgent needs are being met with limited construction funds; and (3) funding methodology provides for the most effective and equitable delivery of facilities.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should revise guidance on construction criteria about establishing and placing priorities on facility needs, determining optimum facility space requirements, and identifying specifically the population for whom the facilities are intended and insure that each service correctly interprets and implements Defense guidance. The Secretary should direct each of the services to: (1) strengthen its headquaters management involvement in the planning process to assume greater funding responsibility for MWR construction projects and implement a meaningful and equitable system to place priorities on project requests; (2) require the major commands, where applicable, to validate project requests generated by the local installations to insure that such requests will fulfill actual needs and can be relied on by headquarters for their accuracy; (3) require command officials to provide guidance to the installations in formulating requests and visit the facilities and verify that real needs exist; and (4) require installation commanders to document the justification and demonstration of the need for proposed projects.

    Agency Affected:


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