DOD Needs More Complete Information and a Strategy to Guide Its Future Disposal Efforts
GAO-11-814: Published: Sep 19, 2011. Publicly Released: Sep 19, 2011.
GAO has designated the Department of Defense's (DOD) management of support infrastructure as a high risk area, in part because of challenges in reducing excess infrastructure. Operating and maintaining excess facilities consumes resources that could be eliminated from DOD's budget or used for other purposes. In response to direction in House Report 111-491, GAO reviewed DOD's (1) progress toward meeting demolition program targets for fiscal years 2008 through 2013; (2) facility utilization information--a source for identifying additional excess facilities; and (3) plans for managing and disposing of excess facilities after fiscal year 2013. GAO analyzed information on excess facilities, completed demolitions, and underutilized facilities in DOD's real property inventory database; reviewed DOD's plans for demolition after the on-going program ends; and conducted site visits to selected military installations.
DOD is on track to meet its overall targets to demolish 62.3 million square feet of facilities and about $1.2 billion in additional facilities that were not measured in square feet by the end of fiscal year 2013. Based on GAO's analysis of DOD's real property inventory database, the military services and defense organizations have all made progress in demolishing excess facilities during the first half of DOD's 6-year demolition program; however, based on DOD's projected demolition plans for the remaining years of the program, some organizations may not meet their individual demolition targets by the end of fiscal year 2013. DOD is limited in its ability to identify other potentially excess facilities, because it does not maintain complete and accurate data concerning the utilization of its facilities. GAO found that DOD's real property inventory database showed utilization data for less than half of DOD's total inventory and that these data often were incomplete or did not reflect the true usage rate of the facilities. As a result, DOD may be missing opportunities to identify additional facilities that are candidates for consolidation, demolition, or other forms of disposal. DOD's plans to eliminate excess facilities in the future are unclear, as are its plans for taking into account external factors, such as management of historical preservation requirements and environmental restrictions, which affect the disposal of long-standing excess facilities that were identified before fiscal year 2008. DOD officials stated that, as they plan for demolition of excess facilities after the current program ends in fiscal year 2013, demolition will be one component of a broader effort for facilities management that will include other approaches to eliminating excess facilities, such as consolidation and recapitalization. However, DOD has not yet defined the strategies and measures it intends to employ to carry out this broader approach. DOD officials further stated that the demolition of long-standing excess facilities may require more time and effort to complete because of several external factors. Without specific strategies and measures to evaluate future efforts, and without considering how external factors may affect goals, DOD may not be able to evaluate how well its efforts will serve to eliminate long-standing excess facilities and make the best use of its facilities. To better focus and manage its future disposal efforts, GAO recommends that DOD calculate and record complete and accurate utilization data for all facilities and develop strategies and measures to enhance the management of excess facilities after the current demolition program ends. In written comments on a draft of this report, DOD generally agreed with GAO's recommendations.
Recommendations for Executive Action
Status: Closed - Implemented
Comments: DOD partially concurred with this recommendation. DOD stated in its comments that it recognizes the need for further improvements in the collection and reporting of utilization data across the department and has already begun some efforts to improve its utilization data. DOD also stated that it will continue the development and implementation of appropriate procedures. However, DOD did not specify what actions it has completed to date or the time frames for completing its efforts. During FY 2012, the defense components continued their efforts to populate the utilization rates for these five facility categories. The Air Force and Navy were successful in closing their gaps, while the Army (the largest property holder in DOD) continues to make progress. After the five facility categories are fully updated in the database, DOD will proceed to determine utilization criteria for the remaining facility categories. In March and June 2013, DOD briefed us that a corrective action plan is underway, which includes ongoing examination and discussion of the methodologies the defense components used to calculate utilization rate for five facility categories. In January 2014, the Under Secretary of Defense(Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics) issued an update to DOD's policy on inventory and accountability of real property assets, it includes procedures for inventory data requirements such as including accurate data submission in real-time or near real-time, and the creation of a Real Property Accountable Officer who is responsible for property inventory at the installation-level. DOD's corrective action plan and updated policy address GAO's concerns with calculating, recording, updating, and verifying the accuracy of utilization data.
Recommendation: To better focus and manage DOD's future disposal efforts, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Installations and Environment) to work with the Secretaries of the military departments and develop and implement a methodology for calculating and recording utilization data for all types of facilities, and modify processes to update and verify the accuracy of reported utilization data to reflect a facility's true status.
Agency Affected: Department of Defense
Status: Closed - Implemented
Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation. DOD stated in its comments that it will work with the military departments to continue to develop and implement the most effective and efficient methods to eliminate excess facilities and excess capacity, but did not provide any details or specific time frames for these efforts. In March and June 2013, DOD officials briefed us that it continues its efforts to work with the military departments to eliminate excess infrastructure. The services have incorporated demolition into their installation planning and other facility space management programs. For example, the Air Force has incorporated demolition as a key feature in its 20/20 by 2020 approach to reduce excess capacity. Also, DOD is more proactively managing DOD's processes to meet historic preservation requirements, to address environmental preservation concerns, and to expedite completion of required environmental mitigation. In addition, DOD plans to continue working with host nations to avoid prolonged negotiations over the return or disposal of excess facilities in foreign countries, thereby minimizing delays in removing these facilities from the DOD real property inventory. In January 2014, DODI 4165.14 was updated to require the services to assign a real property accountable officer at each installation to ensure asset property records are accurate. In turn, the services, such as the AF have implemented policy requiring this officer to review demolition plans for each installation. DOD's corrective action plan and updated policy address GAO's concerns with strategies and measures to enhance management of DOD's excess facilities.
Recommendation: To better focus and manage DOD's future disposal efforts, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Installations and Environment) to work with the Secretaries of the military departments and develop strategies and measures to enhance the management of DOD's excess facilities after the current demolition program ends, taking into account external factors that may affect future disposal efforts.
Agency Affected: Department of Defense