Military Real Property Maintenance:

Management Improvements are Needed to Ensure Adequate Facilities

T-NSIAD-00-111: Published: Mar 1, 2000. Publicly Released: Mar 1, 2000.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the Department of Defense's (DOD) and the military services' management of real property assets, focusing on: (1) principle findings on DOD's strategy for management of real property and how the services determine and prioritize maintenance needs and allocate resources to them; (2) promising practices in facilities maintenance by nonmilitary entities; (3) some barriers that the services face in implementing such practices; (4) GAO's recommendations on how DOD could improve its real property management; and (5) the steps DOD has told GAO it is taking in response to GAO's testimony.

GAO noted that: (1) DOD does not have a comprehensive strategy for managing its maintenance and repair needs; (2) each service sets its own standards for maintaining its property, using different methods to assess property conditions, prioritize repairs, and allocate funds for maintenance and repairs; (3) moreover, GAO's questionnaire results show that bases and major commands within the services sometimes apply their own assessment criteria inconsistently; (4) in addition, the services have different maintenance funding goals through 2005, and they plan to fund repairs below the levels required to keep most facilities at current conditions; (5) therefore, the backlog of repairs, some rated critical, will increase; (6) the amount of backlog varies by service; (7) GAO found a number of promising practices in the maintenance area among nonmilitary entities, such as: (a) using a single system for counting the number and type of facilities and for assessing facility conditions; and (b) ranking budget allocations for all facilities using common criteria, including physical condition, relevance of facilities to the mission, and life-cycle costing and budgeting; (8) however, adoption of these practices by the services is hampered by such barriers as: (a) the use of real property maintenance funds for other operations and maintenance purposes; and (b) incomplete and noncomparable data on maintenance and repair, which prevents DOD and Congress from making meaningful comparisons of the services' requests for funding repairs, which prevents DOD and Congress from making meaningful comparisons of the services' requests for funding repairs; (9) in February 2000, DOD briefed GAO on the steps it is taking to improve its real property management; (10) DOD has formed an Installations Policy Board to provide DOD-wide policy and guidance for installations and to advocate for adequate funding for them; (11) DOD states that it is developing a comprehensive Facilities Strategic Plan; (12) in January 2000, DOD officials visited the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Capital Needs Analysis Center of the Church of Latter-day Saints to determine whether DOD could adopt some of their practices; and (13) although GAO has not evaluated the extent to which these initiatives will be effective in redressing the problems that GAO identified, GAO believes they demonstrate a positive commitment to change.

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