DOD Schools: Limitations in DOD-Sponsored Study on Transfer Alternatives Underscore Need for Additional Assessment

GAO-05-469 Published: Apr 26, 2005. Publicly Released: Apr 26, 2005.
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The Department of Defense (DOD) operates 59 elementary and secondary schools serving over a dozen military bases in the continental United States Periodically, questions have been raised concerning the continuing need for such schools. In 2002, DOD commissioned the Donahue Institute of the University of Massachusetts to examine the potential for transferring these schools to local education agencies (LEAs). GAO's assessment focused on (1) the extent to which DOD has established a school closure policy and the effect such policies have on quality-of-life issues for servicemembers and their dependents; and (2) the transfer study, including the clarity of the basis for conclusions reached, the overall financial impact, and issues identified but not resolved by the study. GAO's report also identifies issues not addressed in the transfer study that could impact the future of DOD's domestic schools.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense Should a decision be made to transfer some or all of the Department of Defense Dependent Elementary and Seconsary Schools' (DDESS) domestic schools to LEAs, the Secretary of Defense, in conjunction with the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness should require that such efforts be accompanied by a more complete assessment of the impact of troop redeployments and other force structure changes on educational facility requirements on affected installations and surrounding communities to facilitate needed facility and operational planning by DOD, the Department of Education and LEAs to meet changing needs. Regardless of transfer decisions, the Secretary should ensure DDESS school facilities are properly reflected in DOD's property records and removed from the Department of Education records.
Closed – Not Implemented
GAO made a recommendation based on "if" a certain event occurs, i.e. if DOD transfers its elementary and secondary school located on a defense installation to a local educational authority, then our recommended action is to take place. DOD has not transferred its inventory of elementary or secondary schools to local educational authorities. Thus, the triggering event for our recommendation to happen has not occurred.

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