To meet the challenges associated with a threefold increase in the Army's military construction program between fiscal years 2005 and 2009, the Army adopted numerous changes, including the expanded use of wood materials and modular building methods, designed to reduce building costs and timelines for new facilities. With the changes, the Army set goals to reduce building costs by 15 percent and timelines by 30 percent. The Army, Navy, and Air Force have also faced challenges associated with incorporating both antiterrorism construction standards and sustainable design ("green") goals into new facilities. GAO was asked to (1) assess the Army's progress in meeting its goals, (2) evaluate the merits from the Army's expanded use of wood materials and modular building methods, and (3) examine potential conflicts between antiterrorism construction standards and sustainable design goals. GAO reviewed relevant documentation, interviewed cognizant service officials, analyzed selected construction project data, and visited five Army installations to review facilities built with alternative materials and methods.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Defense||1. To address unanswered questions about the merits and long-term costs from the use of alternative construction materials and methods for new common facilities, such as administrative buildings and barracks, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Installations and Environment) to commission a tri-service panel that would be responsible for determining and comparing the estimated life-cycle costs of facilities built with alternative construction materials and methods, including a mix of wood and steel, concrete, and masonry construction materials and on-site and modular construction methods.|
|Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Installations and Environment)||2. The Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Installations and Environment) should use the results from the tri-service panel's determinations to revise DOD's unified facilities criteria or other appropriate military construction guidance, as deemed appropriate, to ensure that new facilities are constructed with the materials and methods that meet requirements at the lowest cost over the long term.|