Consolidating Military Base Support Services Could Save Billions

LCD-80-92: Published: Sep 5, 1980. Publicly Released: Sep 5, 1980.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Military base support services, such as payroll and administrative activities, base supply and transportation, maintenance and construction of buildings and roads, trash and sewage disposal, and personnel management, cost the Department of Defense (DOD) about 10 percent of the total Defense budget in fiscal year 1978. Studies have shown that the elimination of duplicate base support services, through consolidation, can achieve large savings without impairing mission effectiveness. In order to reduce costs, DOD established the following programs: (1) the Defense Retail Interservicing Support (DRIS) program; (2) the military services' programs to consolidate support services within each service; and (3) Commercial and Industrial-Type Activities, a program to contract for support services from private industry.

Progress in the reduction of costs has been constrained because DOD is reluctant to force consolidations on the military services and because military personnel are reluctant to let someone else provide their base support services. Strong top-level leadership is needed to ensure that local interests will not be allowed to frustrate proposed consolidations and to convince the military services that consolidations can improve efficiency. In addition, the following problems need management attention: (1) the three programs sometimes nullify each other because they are managed separately; (2) DOD has not set specific cost reduction goals; (3) the DRIS program does not have sufficient staff resources; (4) the DRIS program's data bank does not provide the visibility needed to ensure that the most productive areas for reducing costs are studied; and (5) the services' intraservice support programs do not systematically assess the potential for consolidation savings and do not maintain data on their successes or failures. The DRIS program is a logical organizational framework to provide DOD visibility over the full range of cost reduction opportunities, and to coordinate all cost reduction efforts. To improve coordination, a single manager for military base support could be established.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should strongly endorse a coordinated DOD-wide effort to eliminate unnecessary duplication of base support services whenever mission effectiveness will not be impaired. Specifically, the Secretary should: (1) establish a focal point, preferably the DRIS program, to coordinate the interservicing, intraservicing, and contracting out of base support, as well as to guide and monitor DOD-wide efforts; (2) set specific yearly cost reduction goals for each military service and require each service to set a goal for its subordinate commands; (3) reduce base support funds for components that consistently fail to reach the above-mentioned goals; and (4) assign additional full-time staffing to the Joint Interservice Resource Study Groups. In addition, the Secretary should broaden the scope of the DRIS program's database to include: an inventory of the base support services each installation provides by functions and organizations; data on the cost and number of personnel at the supervisory, administrative, and worker levels involved with each of the support services by installation; and geographical data showing the relative distances between installations. Finally, the Secretary should direct the military services to clearly state their objectives of reducing costs through interservice support and maintain cost data on the success or failure of intraservice consolidations.

    Agency Affected:


Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Mar 13, 2018

Feb 28, 2018

Feb 16, 2018

Feb 15, 2018

Feb 6, 2018

Jan 31, 2018

Jan 18, 2018

Jan 10, 2018

Looking for more? Browse all our products here