Military Base Realignments and Closures:

Estimated Costs Have Increased While Savings Estimates Have Decreased Since Fiscal Year 2009

GAO-10-98R: Published: Nov 13, 2009. Publicly Released: Nov 13, 2009.

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Brian J. Lepore
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The Department of Defense's (DOD) cost estimates to implement recommendations from the most recent Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round have steadily increased each budget year since 2005. This BRAC round is the fifth such round undertaken by DOD since 1988 and, by our assessment, it is the biggest, most complex, and costliest BRAC round ever. With this round, DOD plans to execute hundreds of BRAC actions affecting over 800 defense locations and relocate over 123,000 personnel. Before it can realize savings from BRAC, DOD must first invest billions of dollars in facility construction, renovation, and other up-front expenses. To implement BRAC 2005, DOD plans to spend nearly $35 billion--an unprecedented amount, given that it has spent only about $25 billion to implement the four previous BRAC rounds combined.

Our review of DOD's fiscal year 2010 BRAC budget indicates that DOD plans to spend more to implement BRAC 2005 recommendations compared to last year's BRAC budget. DOD's estimated one-time costs to implement this BRAC round increased by almost $2.5 billion from fiscal year 2009 to fiscal year 2010, bringing the total implementation cost estimate for this BRAC round to $34.9 billion. To place this increase in perspective, in September 2005, the BRAC Commission estimated that it would cost DOD about $21 billion over the 6-year implementation period whereas this estimate is now about $35 billion--an increase of nearly 67 percent. Our analysis shows that over 80 percent of the estimated $2.5 billion in cost increases are associated with 10 recommendations. Military construction costs accounted for the majority of the increase, although other factors such as information technology requirements also contributed to some of the expected cost increases. After DOD implements all of the BRAC 2005 recommendations, which the department is required to do by the statutory deadline of September 2011, our analysis of DOD's fiscal year 2010 budget estimates shows that net annual recurring savings for fiscal year 2012 and beyond will have decreased by almost $94 million to about $3.9 billion, compared to DOD's estimates in fiscal year 2009. As we have previously reported, we believe DOD's net annual recurring savings estimates may be overstated because they include dollar savings from eliminating military personnel positions without corresponding decreases in end-strength. DOD disagrees with our position. The $3.9 billion estimate is calculated using DOD's method, which we nonetheless believe overstates savings. However, we included these estimates for consistency. Our calculations also show that BRAC savings DOD expects to generate over a 20-year period from 2006 through 2025 have declined to $10.9 billion in constant fiscal year 2005 dollars, compared to $13.7 billion that we reported based on the previous year's BRAC budget. To place this decrease in perspective, in September 2005 the BRAC Commission estimated that DOD would save about $36 billion--nearly 70 percent more--over the same 20-year period.

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