NOAA Aircraft Operations:

Cost Analysis Does Not Support Decision to Relocate

GGD-93-41: Published: Dec 21, 1992. Publicly Released: Dec 21, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) decision to relocate its Aircraft Operations Center (AOC) from Miami International Airport (MIA) to MacDill Air Force Base, focusing on whether NOAA: (1) overstated current rental costs; (2) estimated an annual 10-percent rent increase at MIA; (3) correctly assumed that alternative sites and MIA rental rates were the same; and (4) correctly estimated that telephone service at the alternative sites would cost four times more than MIA telephone service.

GAO found that: (1) the relocation cost estimate was inadequate due to a unreliable methodology, questionable cost analysis, and failure to include all economic costs; (2) NOAA was not able to estimate the rental costs at MIA or adequately compare costs at other alternative rental sites, overestimated yearly increases of MIA rental costs by $1.2 million, and overstated telephone service estimates at alternative rental sites; (3) the Air Force offered to supply AOC with hangar and building services at MacDill Air Force Base without rent until 1994, but NOAA would likely be liable for MacDill operation costs, which would exceed the costs of leasing space elsewhere; and (4) the decision to relocate to MacDill Air Force Base involves risks because of uncertainties concerning future occupancy, the impact on hurricane research, and unknown costs.

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