Defense Infrastructure:

Challenges Facing DOD in Implementing Reform Initiatives

T-NSIAD-98-115: Published: Mar 18, 1998. Publicly Released: Mar 18, 1998.

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David R. Warren
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GAO discussed selected Defense Reform Initiatives pertaining to facilities infrastructure, focusing on the: (1) need for infrastructure reform; (2) significant challenges the Department of Defense (DOD) faces in implementing its infrastructure initiatives and achieving significant savings in the short term; and (3) need to integrate these initiatives into an overall facilities infrastructure plan.

GAO noted that: (1) infrastructure reform within DOD is an extremely difficult task but one that is very much needed; (2) therefore, GAO strongly supports the need to further reduce excess support infrastructure, as well as the need for improved planning to address remaining infrastructure needs; (3) GAO's work continues to show that significant opportunities remain to further streamline operations, consolidate functions, eliminate duplication of effort, and improve efficiency; (4) GAO is concerned about DOD's ability to achieve the expected level of savings and questions whether many of the initiatives can overcome significant challenges and be implemented in a timely, efficient, and effective manner; (5) GAO's work relating to various defense reform initiatives shows that estimated savings often are not as great as first estimated and that the initiatives often take much longer than expected to be achieved; (6) the following are some key points GAO believes Congress and DOD should take into consideration as they assess expected results of the Defense Reform Initiative Report initiatives involving facilities infrastructure: (a) the military housing privatization initiative offers a powerful new tool to help address the military's housing problem, however, implementation is off to a slow start and it is unclear whether the initiative will result in overall budget savings; (b) demolition can be a viable option for reducing excess structures and operating costs on military basis, however, while this program recently has received increased emphasis within DOD, the availability of funding, against other competing priorities in a constrained budget environment, could affect implementation over time; (c) despite their potential, most of the initiatives to consolidate, restructure, and regionalize many of its support agencies have been going on for several years and still face implementation challenges; and (d) while GAO believes there are significant savings from prior base realignment and closure rounds, questions continue to exist about the magnitude of savings; (7) the Secretary of Defense's identification of the need to shed excess infrastructure as a key component of the Defense Reform Initiatives has brought high-level attention to this area; (8) however, the services currently lack comprehensive long-range plans to guide them in reducing excess infrastructure and better managing remaining assets; and (9) the need for such planning is underscored by the requirements of the Government Performance and Results Act.

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