BRAC Extension Needed for Only Two Recommendations
Essentially only two BRAC recommendations have not yet been completed, according to DOD, and, as a result, House and Senate conferees dropped a provision from the House version of the fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill offering the Pentagon a one-year extension to carry out up to seven recommendations and replaced it with language pushing officials to implement all recommendations “as expeditiously as possible.”
The department had requested an extension for up to 10 recommendations at the beginning of the year, and, since then, conferees had been monitoring the progress of BRAC moves that were in danger of missing the Sept. 15, 2011, implementation deadline. When the deadline came, only two recommendations had not yet been completed, allowing the conferees to use the surprisingly open-ended language in the conference agreement to the authorization bill reached Monday.
The House is expected to vote on the measure, H.R. 1540, Wednesday, with the Senate taking it up later this week.
One of the outstanding recommendations is the consolidation of medical command headquarters in the Washington, D.C., area. The primary delay came as DOD needed to identify a leased site to relocate the headquarters. The lease has been approved, according to the explanatory statement accompanying the conference report, and officials still are carrying out the move.
The legislation directly addresses the other outstanding recommendation, the closure of Umatilla Chemical Depot in northern Oregon, providing DOD one year after it has finished destroying the chemical weapons stockpile stored there to close the facility. Workers disposed of the last container of mustard agent in October.
DOD previously decided that the chemical depot would not close under the BRAC statute when officials learned that the chemical weapons stockpile would not be destroyed by the Sept. 15 implementation deadline. Since then, the local redevelopment authority and the state’s congressional delegation have been trying to ensure the reuse of the depot would follow the BRAC process and provide the community a role in its redevelopment.
The provision should provide the fix the state’s lawmakers were looking for. It requires the secretary of defense to carry out Umatilla’s closure, and any related property management and disposal activities, in accordance with the BRAC statute.
The conference report for H.R. 1540 is available on the website of the House Rules Committee.