Military Base Closures: Management Strategy Needed to Mitigate Challenges and Improve Communication to Help Ensure Timely Implementation of Air National Guard Recommendations

GAO-07-641 Published: May 16, 2007. Publicly Released: May 16, 2007.
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Highlights

The 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) recommendations affected 62 percent of the flying units in the Air National Guard (ANG) with 14 units losing their flying mission, and others converting from one type of aircraft to another, or increasing or decreasing assigned aircraft. To implement the recommendations, ANG must relocate hundreds of aircraft and retrain or recruit about 15,000 personnel by 2011. In this report, GAO addresses the status of efforts to implement the ANG BRAC actions. GAO's objectives were to determine (1) the process to provide replacement missions to units losing flying missions, (2) the progress and challenges in implementing the BRAC actions, and (3) changes to the cost and savings estimates. This report, prepared under the Comptroller General's authority to conduct evaluations on his own initiative, is one in a series of reports related to 2005 BRAC recommendations. GAO conducted its work at the Air Force, ANG headquarters, and in 11 states affected by BRAC 2005

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense In order to ensure management of BRAC implementation challenges, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Chief, National Guard Bureau, to task the Director, Air National Guard, to develop a mitigation strategy to be shared with key stakeholders that anticipates, identifies, and addresses related implementation challenges. At a minimum, this strategy should include time frames for actions and responsibilities for each challenge, and facilitate the ability of ANG headquarters officials to act to mitigate potential delays in interim milestones.
Closed – Implemented
In May 2007 we recommended the Director, Air National Guard (ANG) develop a mitigation strategy to be shared with key stakeholders that anticipates, identifies, and addresses any BRAC implementation challenges. In response, ANG now has a mitigation strategy that it has shared with key stakeholders. For example, DOD reported that the National Guard Bureau, an organization that oversees the actions of the ANG, now provides key stakeholders with access to detailed BRAC business plans that lay out action timelines and programming plans for each BRAC-affected ANG installation and that the affected stakeholders must collaborate to determine strategies and resources to address BRAC implementation challenges as they arise. Also, the Air Force has assigned ANG BRAC implementation responsibility to a specific program management office to better facilitate overall monitoring and oversight of BRAC implementation. As such, that office uses various lines of communications with Air Force program management officers, functional area managers, BRAC Integrated Programming Team members, as well as numerous ANG State and Wing-level contacts to conduct semiannual program reviews to discuss BRAC implementation changes, funding issues, and implementation schedules. To better ensure BRAC completion by the statutory deadline of September 2011, these officials are also monitoring progress in implementing numerous ANG BRAC actions through daily communications and continuing oversight to identify issues that might require mitigating actions.
Department of Defense In order to ensure management of BRAC implementation challenges, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Chief, National Guard Bureau, to task the Director, Air National Guard, to expand the Strategic Communication Plan to include how ANG headquarters will provide the affected ANG units with the information needed to implement the BRAC-related actions.
Closed – Implemented
In May 2007, we recommended the Director, Air National Guard (ANG) expand its Strategic Communication Plan to include how ANG headquarters will provide the affected ANG units with the information needed to implement the BRAC actions. DOD agreed that it was incumbent upon ANG and all affected ANG units to communicate information needed to effectively implement BRAC. As such, the National Guard Bureau, an oversight organization over ANG, is now providing key stakeholders with access to detailed BRAC implementation action timelines and programming plans, including BRAC contacts at each ANG-affected base. Further, the ANG Strategic Communication Playbook, which was updated in 2009, now focuses leadership attention to various strategic priorities including the implementation of ANG BRAC recommendations. In addition, the ANG Strategic Planning Process now includes both Air Force level and National Guard Bureau level communication with various state-level Adjutants Generals about BRAC implementation. As such, the Air Force Chief of Staff and ANG Director have hosted a meeting for all state-level Adjutants Generals to discuss BRAC actions. As a result of implementing our recommendation, ANG headquarters' ability to identify strategies and determine resources needed to effectively meet BRAC goals has improved.
Department of Defense In order to provide more complete and transparent ANG BRAC cost information, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to report in the Air Force annual BRAC budget submission the costs and source of funding required to establish replacement missions for ANG units that will lose their flying missions as a result of BRAC 2005.
Closed – Not Implemented
DOD concurred with this recommendation. DOD's proposed alternative does not meet the intent of this recommendation.

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