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Robert Longley

Military Base Closures Not Meeting Savings Goals

By March 16, 2012

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As Other Bases Close, Fort Bragg BuildsClosing down or moving U.S. military facilities under the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) program is supposed to be saving the government at least $4.2 billion a year. But due to the soaring cost of making things go away, those savings goals are now far from being met, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported to Congress.

When the fifth and latest round of the BRAC program got rolling in 2005, the Department of Defense estimated it would cost "only" $21 billion to close or relocate the 182 targeted facilities. But according to the GAO's report, Key Factors Contributing to BRAC 2005 Results, that cost estimate has now ballooned by 67%, to over $35.1 billion.

GAO's analysis showed that annual savings resulting from BRAC are now about $3.8 billion, a decrease of 9.5%, while the 20-year net present value savings are now about $9.9 billion, a decrease of 73%. At that rate, found the GAO, the military will not recover its up-front costs until 2018.

Why? While the first four rounds of the BRAC program focused simply on saving money by closing facilities, the Department of Defense (DoD) determined that the primary goal of the 5th BRAC round should be to "transform the military," with cost savings assigned a lower priority.

According to the GAO report, the additional complexity of achieving the DoD's vision of a "transformed military" through closing facilities while relocating over 123,000 people and undertaking $24.7 billion in new construction and renovations resulted in more costs and less savings.

In fact, the independent Base Closure and Realignment Commission found DoD's recommendation for the current BRAC round to be of "unprecedented scope and complexity."

"DOD has about 500 permanent installations in the United States that comprise more than 300,000 buildings and about 200,000 other structures with a replacement value of more than $800 billion," wrote the GAO in its report. "Costs to build and maintain the defense infrastructure represent a significant financial commitment. However, closing unneeded defense facilities has historically been difficult because of public concern about the economic effects of closures on communities, the perceived lack of impartiality of the decision-making process, and legal requirements."

Also See:
Register for the Draft: It's Still the Law

Government Accountability Office Turns 90

Photo: As Other Bases Close, Fort Bragg Builds - Chris Hondros/Getty Images


March 16, 2012 at 7:44 am
(1) raccman says:

C,mon Folks ! Surely you’re not THAT naive ! Closings were really not to save money – but Obama’s ploy to further weaken our Military – like the good little Marxist he is !!!

March 16, 2012 at 8:36 am
(2) usgovinfo says:

@raccman — Perhaps I should have pointed out in the blog post that the BRAC, base closure program started in 1988, under President Reagan, a very pro-military, but anti-spending president.

March 16, 2012 at 9:55 am
(3) raccman says:

And how many members of our military remain – compared to previous years of previous administrations ? Good thing we’re not “at war” with anyone – or fear a war with anyone ! DREAM ON FOLKS !
Ever wonder what Obama has to hide about his background ? Ever wonder why we are not allowed to know about his full background – as we did with all previous presidents ?
Isn’t naivete wonderful – and pleasant !!!

March 16, 2012 at 10:46 am
(4) Robert Longley says:

@ raccman — The total number of non-civilian US military personnel has actually increased slightly since the end of 2008, from 1,402,227 to 1,433,174 as of January 2012.

For more facts… see: Department of Defense — Military Personnel Statistics


Total Military (non-civilian) Personnel
1994 — 1,610,490
2001 — 1,385,116
2008 — 1,402,227
Jan. 2012 — 1,433,174

March 16, 2012 at 11:02 am
(5) Robert Longley says:

Let me add that, historically, presidents (including Obama) have hesitated to directly influence total US military personnel strength, deferring instead to the recommendations of the Joint Chiefs. Just about the only power the president has to greatly and immediately alter total troop size is to, with the approval of Congress, activate the draft, as Johnson did during Vietnam.

The base closure program has had very little, if any, effect on troop size. Reductions in personnel are mainly to civilian employees of the bases involved.

Robert Longley

June 5, 2012 at 7:05 am
(6) Carol says:

@raccman you are obviously very paranoid, angry and not very informed. If you are capable of reading this article that I am adding, with any objectivity please do so. You will then be informed on the subject and will be able to make a comment that has some relevance. Obama has very little to do with base closures. I do not agree with Obama’s stance on life and marriage but I do not like Republican’s like Mit Romney and his involvement with Solamere Capital either. It seems that Republicans are big business and have no concern whatsoever with society as a whole, only their own financial interests.


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