Consolidating Military Base Support Services Could Save Billions

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

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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.

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