Questionable Practices of the Military Minor Construction Program

LCD-77-356: Published: Feb 14, 1978. Publicly Released: Feb 14, 1978.

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Congress normally authorizes military construction projects in annual construction authorizations acts and finances them in construction appropriation acts. To provide for unforeseen circumstances creating an urgent need for construction, Congress has enacted legislation permitting the military services to initiate projects costing no more than $400,000 without congressional approval.

The Department of Defense (DOD) is violating the spirit and purpose of the law in the performance of minor construction projects. DOD and the services are mishandling project development, approval, funding, and execution by permitting incremental construction. The most prevalent questionable practice is dividing a project's funding or construction to avoid funding limitations. A 1977 amendment to the legislation makes it clear that a project should not be defined in such a way as to enable such acts to be funded from various sources and project splitting to be used to avoid the prescribed monetary constraints. Nevertheless, the new legislative language is comparable to language already in DOD regulations which has been lossely interpreted by officials to allow completion of construction projects beyond that contemplated by minor construction authority. Clear administrative guidance, command emphasis, and a strong and continuing internal audit program are necessary if past practices are to be halted.

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