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Highlights

What GAO Found

Based on analysis of 8 selected intergovernmental support agreements (IGSAs) and interviews with officials, GAO found that the military services have realized financial and nonfinancial benefits from using IGSAs with local or state governments to obtain installation services such as waste removal, grounds maintenance, and stray animal control.

  • Financial benefits. Of the 8 selected IGSAs, 5 resulted in cost savings, in which the actual cost of each IGSA during its first year was lower than the expected cost of a contract the installation had previously used to obtain the installation service. For example, Moody Air Force Base realized an estimated cost savings of $270,000 by using an IGSA for water and wastewater treatment services, versus continuing to obtain this service via contract. Installation officials stated that the other 3 selected IGSAs resulted in cost avoidances, in which the installations used the IGSAs to obtain a service they were not previously paying for at a lower cost than other alternatives.
  • Nonfinancial benefits. According to officials from all four services, IGSAs have provided nonfinancial benefits such as enhanced mission effectiveness and readiness, reduced administrative time, and improved relationships with local communities.

However, the military services are not fully monitoring benefits being realized from implemented IGSAs because they have not established formal processes to do so. For example, Navy and Marine Corps officials stated that they are not monitoring the financial and nonfinancial performance of implemented IGSAs in part because they are in the early stages of using IGSAs. The Air Force monitors some information on realized IGSA financial benefits, but this information is not complete because reporting by installations is voluntary. Developing and documenting processes to monitor any realized benefits of implemented IGSAs would provide the services with useful information on IGSA performance as they make decisions on devoting resources to developing and implementing these agreements in other locations.

The military services have developed various approaches for supporting the use of IGSAs to reduce costs or enhance mission effectiveness. For example, the services have issued policies and procedures for their installations to follow in order to develop, obtain approval for, and implement IGSAs. However, officials from each of the military services told us they are not fully monitoring whether installations are evaluating opportunities to use IGSAs. For example, Army policy states that installations are to review current, soon-to-expire contracts for possible transition to an IGSA, but Army officials said they are not yet monitoring whether installations are doing so. Without a process in place to monitor whether installations are evaluating opportunities to use IGSAs, the military services do not know the extent to which this is occurring and thus may be missing opportunities to further reduce costs or enhance mission effectiveness.

Why GAO Did This Study

The Department of Defense (DOD) budgets about $25 billion annually to operate and support its installations. GAO has designated DOD support infrastructure management as a high-risk area since 1997, in part because DOD has needed to reduce its installation support costs. In 2013, Congress authorized the military services to enter into IGSAs with local and state governments to receive installation services, if an agreement will provide financial benefits or enhance mission effectiveness. As of July 2018, the military services had approved 45 IGSAs at 33 installations.

In this report, GAO, among other objectives, evaluated the extent to which the military services have (1) realized and monitored the benefits from IGSAs and (2) supported the use of IGSAs and monitored whether installations are evaluating opportunities to use IGSAs.

GAO reviewed the IGSA statute and policies and procedures; evaluated a nongeneralizable sample of 8 IGSAs, selected based on factors including the military service involved, the amount of expected financial benefits, and the length of time in place; compared the services' processes and actions against standards for internal control; and interviewed service, installation, and local government officials.

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Recommendations

GAO is making eight recommendations to monitor both the benefits realized from implemented IGSAs and whether installations are evaluating IGSA opportunities. DOD concurred with six recommendations and non-concurred with two, but plans to implement them all.

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of the Army 1. The Secretary of the Army should (a) finalize and implement a process to collect and monitor information on the extent to which all implemented IGSAs have resulted in financial and nonfinancial benefits and (b) complete documentation of that process in Army IGSA policy or procedures. (Recommendation 1)
Closed - Implemented
The Army concurred with this recommendation, and, in response to it, finalized and implemented an Order directing the monitoring of any realized financial benefits of implemented IGSAs. While this Order does not specifically require the monitoring of realized nonfinancial benefits, a related Army Order on IGSAs states that it is essential to leverage public-public partnerships in order to, among other things, improve relationships with state and local communities. We believe that this meets the intent of our recommendation. By establishing and implementing this process and documenting it in guidance, the Army will have information decision makers can use when reviewing individual IGSAs for possible renewal and when deciding whether to develop and implement similar agreements in other locations.
Department of the Navy 2. The Secretary of the Navy should (a) establish and implement a process to collect and monitor information on the extent to which all implemented IGSAs have resulted in financial and nonfinancial benefits and (b) document that process in Navy IGSA policy or procedures. (Recommendation 2)
Closed - Implemented
The Navy concurred with this recommendation and on March 1, 2019 the Department of the Navy directed the Commander, Navy Installations Command, to establish policy or procedures, and implement a process, to collect and monitor information on the realized financial or nonfinancial benefits of all implemented IGSAs. In addition, the Department directed that the information shall be provided to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Installations & Facilities) semi-annually. On June 1, 2019, Commander, Navy Installations Command issued the required guidance, and collected data on the financial and nonfinancial benefits of the Navy's implemented IGSAs in the 4th quarter of fiscal year 2019. By establishing and implementing this process and documenting it in guidance, the Navy will have information decision makers can use when reviewing individual IGSAs for possible renewal, and when deciding whether to develop and implement similar agreements in other locations.
United States Marine Corps 3. The Commandant of the Marine Corps should (a) establish and implement a process to collect and monitor information on the extent to which all implemented IGSAs have resulted in financial and nonfinancial benefits and (b) document that process in Marine Corps IGSA policy or procedures. (Recommendation 3)
Closed - Implemented
DOD did not concur with this recommendation, stating that the Marine Corps was within the Department of the Navy and that the recommendation was unnecessary. GAO made a similar recommendation to the Navy. DOD agreed with that recommendation, and stated that the Department of the Navy would issue guidance directing the Navy and Marine Corps to each establish and implement a process to monitor the realized financial and nonfinancial benefits of their respective service's implemented intergovernmental support agreements (IGSA). On March 1, 2019 the Department of the Navy directed the Commander, Marine Corps Installation Command (MCICOM), to establish policy or procedures, and implement a process, to collect and monitor information on the realized financial or nonfinancial benefits of all implemented IGSAs. On June 27, 2019, MCICOM issued the required guidance, along with an updated Commanders Handbook reflecting the new requirements. By establishing and implementing this process and documenting it in guidance, the Marine Corps will have information decision makers can use when reviewing individual IGSAs for possible renewal, and when deciding whether to develop and implement similar agreements in other locations.
Department of the Air Force 4. The Secretary of the Air Force should (a) establish and implement a formal process to collect and monitor information on the extent to which all implemented IGSAs have resulted in financial and nonfinancial benefits and (b) document that process in Air Force IGSA policy or procedures. (Recommendation 4)
Closed - Implemented
The Air Force concurred with this recommendation, and on February 25, 2021 the Director, Air Force Community Partnership Program, signed a memorandum stating that the program will conduct an annual data call to collect financial source information on IGSAs, focused on financial benefits. Also in February 2021, the Air Force incorporated instructions for recording actual financial benefits in a training document for its community partnership program database. Additionally, an Air Force reference guide issued in February 2020 states that IGSAs can be established if they enhance mission effectiveness, which could include non-financial benefits. We believe that these actions, taken together, meet the intent of our recommendation. By establishing and implementing this process and documenting it in guidance, the Air Force will have information decision makers can use when reviewing individual IGSAs for possible renewal, and when deciding whether to develop and implement similar agreements in other locations.
Department of the Army 5. The Secretary of the Army should (a) finalize and implement a process to monitor whether Army installations are evaluating opportunities for using IGSAs and to obtain explanations from installations on the outcome of their evaluations and (b) complete documentation of that process in Army IGSA policy or procedures. (Recommendation 5)
Closed - Implemented
The Army concurred with this recommendation and finalized and implemented guidance to pursue cost savings at Army installations through use of intergovernmental support agreements (IGSA). Specifically, the guidance directs Army installations to coordinate with Army Installation Management Command headquarters to identify opportunities to develop and submit proposals for IGSAs with local or state governments, beginning with solid waste services. Army installations are also to develop other IGSA ideas and concepts in addition to the targeted solid waste service area. By finalizing and implementing this process and documenting it in guidance, the Army will have greater visibility of installations' pursuit of opportunities to reduce costs or enhance mission effectiveness through the use of IGSAs.
Department of the Navy 6. The Secretary of the Navy should (a) establish and implement a process to monitor whether Navy installations are evaluating opportunities for using IGSAs and to obtain explanations from installations on the outcome of their evaluations and (b) document that process in Navy IGSA policy or procedures. (Recommendation 6)
Closed - Implemented
The Navy concurred with this recommendation. In March 2019, the Department of the Navy directed the Commander, Navy Installations Command, to establish policy or procedures, and implement a process, to monitor Navy installations' evaluation of opportunities for using IGSAs and the outcome of their evaluations. In addition, the Department directed that the information shall be provided to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Installations and Facilities) semi-annually. In June 2019, Commander, Navy Installations Command issued the required guidance to Navy regions. By establishing and implementing this process and documenting it in guidance, Navy decision makers will be better able to know whether their installations are considering the use of IGSAs, identify challenges that could hamper the ability to use IGSAs, and enhance the Navy's ability to reduce costs or enhance mission effectiveness through the use of IGSAs.
United States Marine Corps 7. The Commandant of the Marine Corps should (a) establish and implement a process to monitor whether Marine Corps installations are evaluating opportunities for using IGSAs and to obtain explanations from installations on the outcome of their evaluations and (b) document that process in Marine Corps IGSA policy or procedures. (Recommendation 7)
Closed - Implemented
The Marine Corps did not concur with this recommendation. However, in written comments, DOD stated that the Department of the Navy would implement this recommendation and that it would be applicable to both the Navy and Marine Corps. In March 2019, the Department of the Navy directed the Commander, Marine Corps Installations Command, to establish policy or procedures, and implement a process, to monitor Marine Corps installations' evaluation of opportunities for using IGSAs and the outcome of their evaluations. In addition, the Department directed that the information shall be provided to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Installations and Facilities) semi-annually. In June 2019, the Marine Corps issued the required guidance to the Marine Corps Installation Command's regions. By establishing, implementing, and documenting this process, the Marine Corps will be better able to know whether their installations are considering the use of IGSAs, identify challenges that could hamper the ability to use IGSAs, and enhance the Marine Corps' ability to reduce costs or enhance mission effectiveness through the use of IGSAs.
Department of the Air Force 8. The Secretary of the Air Force should document in Air Force IGSA policy or procedures its process for monitoring whether Air Force installations are evaluating opportunities for using IGSAs. (Recommendation 8)
Closed - Implemented
The Air Force concurred with this recommendation. In December 2019 the Air Force updated its policy on IGSAs to state that contracting officers have an opportunity to influence the course of the IGSA program by actively supporting customers to achieve mutually beneficial intergovernmental relationships and thus are strongly encouraged to consider state and local communities when conducting market research for installation support services. In addition, Air Force policy states the Air Force Community Partnership Program (AFCP) is an initiative to develop, manage, oversee, and evaluate installation-community partnerships and that installation leaders should coordinate with stakeholders across the Air Force and implement partnerships that provide the best value to the government and its community partners. We believe that these policies, taken together, meet the intent of our recommendation. By documenting its support of IGSAs, encouraging their use, and defining the AFCP's oversight role for community partnerships, the Air Force will have greater visibility of installations' pursuit of opportunities to reduce costs or enhance mission effectiveness through the use of IGSAs.

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