Defense Infrastructure:

Changes in Funding Priorities and Strategic Planning Needed to Improve the Condition of Military Facilities

GAO-03-274: Published: Feb 19, 2003. Publicly Released: Feb 19, 2003.

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GAO prepared this report in response to its basic legislative responsibilities. Its objectives are threefold: (1) to examine the historical funding trends and their impact on the condition of the active forces' facilities, (2) to evaluate the consistency of the services' information on facility conditions, and (3) to assess the Department of Defense's (DOD) long-term strategic plan and objectives to improve facility conditions.

While the amount of money the active forces have spent on facility maintenance has increased recently, DOD and service officials said these amounts have not been sufficient to halt the deterioration of facilities. Too little funding to adequately maintain facilities is also aggravated by DOD's acknowledged retention of facilities in excess of its needs. From fiscal year 1998 to 2001, obligations for facility maintenance rose by 26 percent with increases coming from higher annual budget requests, congressional designations that exceeded those requests, supplemental appropriations, and the services' movement of funds to maintenance projects. Funding for military construction also increased during this period. However, military reports and testimonies state that these amounts have been insufficient, and GAO's recent visits to installations document the deteriorated conditions of facilities. There is a lack of consistency in the services' information on facility conditions, making it difficult for Congress, DOD, and the services to direct funds to facilities where they are most needed and to accurately gauge facility conditions. Although DOD developed a standard rating scale to summarize facility conditions (C-ratings), each service has the latitude to use its own system for assessing conditions, including the types of facility raters, assessment frequencies, appraisal scales, and validation procedures. Although DOD has a strategic plan for facilities, it lacks comprehensive information on the specific actions, time frames, responsibilities, and funding needed to reach its goals. Also, DOD has set up three objectives to improve its facility conditions--to fully fund sustainment, to achieve a 67-year average recapitalization rate by fiscal year 2007, and to improve facility conditions so that deficiencies have limited effects on military mission achievement by fiscal year 2010. However, the services have not proposed to fully fund all the objectives and have developed funding plans to achieve others that have unrealistically high rates of increase during the out-years. At the same time, the services have not developed comprehensive performance plans to implement DOD's vision for facilities.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In January 2003, DOD completed the fiscal year (FY) 2004 program-budget review. At that time, OSD directed the services and Defense agencies to provide adequate funding to achieve a sustainment rate of 93 percent in FY 2004, with a plan to achieve 100 percent sustainment in FY 2006. In addition, the department plans on funding that achieves a 67-year recapitalization rate DOD-wide by FY 2008. To achieve 67-year recapitalization for the reserve components, the department has programmed significant funding in the out years to buy back their facility deficit and to improve the quality of their existing facilities.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the secretaries of the military services to reassess the funding priorities the services have attached to sustaining and improving the condition of their facilities relative to other needs and funding limitations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Consistent with Executive Order 13327, which directed all major agencies to improve the management of facilities, DOD has resolved to transform and improve its facility condition reporting system. This system, called the Q rating system, collects condition ratings at the level of individual facility records, using standard cost-to-restore scales across the services. These ratings will directly support a departmentwide facilities condition index. In addition, DOD has developed a mission dependency factor--a so-called M rating--for each facility, which will be used to weight the Q rating. According to OSD officials, this process is being tested and will be fully incorporated into the department's web-enabled Defense Readiness Reporting System (DRRS) in 2008.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should instruct the military services to implement a departmentwide process to consistently assess and validate facility conditions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In 2004 DOD revised its Defense Facilities Strategic Plan and renamed it the Defense Installations Strategic Plan and updated the plan again in 2005. Both the 2004 plan and the 2005 update contain some elements--such as specific objectives, descriptions of the means and strategies to achieve each objective, specific performance goals, time frames, and responsible officials--of a comprehensive strategic plan.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should revise the Defense Facilities Strategic Plan to identify specific actions needed, time frames, responsibilities, and funding levels--elements of a comprehensive strategic plan.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In its 2004 Defense Installations Strategic Plan and the 2005/2006 update to this plan, DOD specified that each of the military services should attempt to fully fund facilities sustainment, achieve a 67-year recapitalization rate, and improve their facilities condition ratings.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should clarify DOD's guidance by specifying the organizational level (service, major command, or installation) at which its three objectives to fully fund sustainment, achieve a 67-year average recapitalization rate, and eliminate C-3 and C-4 facility ratings, bringing them up to a minimal C-2 level, should be achieved.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Marine Corps issued its Installations Strategic Plan in June 2004 and the Army and the Navy issued their own individual installations strategic plans in March 2005, which are companions to the 2004 Defense Installations Strategic Plan, formerly named the Defense Facilities Strategic Plan. These individual service plans provide specific metrics to measure performance in the sustainment and recapitalization of facilities.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the services to develop comprehensive performance plans implementing the Defense Facilities Strategic Plan, which would provide specific metrics to measure performance and credible and realistic funding plans to sustain and recapitalize facilities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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