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Posts Tagged ‘Congress/DOD’

BRAC Process Would Help VA Replace Obsolete Facilities

  • March 9, 2015
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Veterans Affairs officials have concluded the agency is badly in need of a BRAC-like process that would allow it to dispose of hundreds of facilities that are either antiquated or no longer needed because they are located far from veteran populations. “VA cannot be a sound steward of the taxpayers’ resources with the asset portfolio we carry. No business would carry such a portfolio, and veterans deserve better,” Secretary Robert McDonald told the House Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee last week. “It’s time to close VA’s old substandard and underutilized infrastructure …

Condition of Facilities Remains at High Risk, Installation Officials Say

  • March 8, 2015
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DOD’s fiscal 2016 budget request would help the services restore some of the backlog in facility maintenance caused by previous years’ spending cuts, but it still would leave installations scrambling to keep pace with building maintenance requirements. The proposal would cover only 81 percent of the funds the services need to adequately maintain their infrastructure, reported Federal News Radio. And that’s assuming Congress comes up with a way to pay for the administration’s request to exceed the Budget Control Act spending caps by $35 billion next year. “Facility sustainment is still the place where I see the highest risk,” said John Conger, acting assistant secretary of defense for energy, installations and environment …

Carter Testimony Highlights BRAC Successes

  • March 8, 2015
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The 19-page testimony on DOD’s fiscal 2016 budget request that Secretary Ashton Carter submitted to two congressional committees last week argued for a BRAC round in 2017, but it also included a nod to several communities that have successfully recovered from a base closure. The justification for a new round is clear, Carter says. “Simply put, we have more bases in more places than we need. We estimate DOD has about 25 percent more infrastructure capacity than necessary,” according to his written testimony. “We must be permitted to divest surplus infrastructure as we reduce and renew force structure. With projected recurring savings from a new BRAC round totaling some $2 billion a year, it would be irresponsible to cut tooth without also cutting tail …

Army Can’t Keep up with Failing Facilities

  • March 6, 2015
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Army facilities deteriorated significantly following the first two years of mandatory budget caps, fiscal 2013 and 2014, Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary for installations, energy, and environment, told lawmakers this week. Currently, 7 percent of the service’s facilities are failing — including ones housing operating units — and 24 percent are in poor condition, Hammack told the House Armed Services’ Readiness Subcommittee on Tuesday. “The challenge is that facilities are failing at a rate faster than we’re being funded …

Strong Push by Defense Hawks Could Force Compromise over Raising Budget Caps

  • March 6, 2015
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The lack of a consensus within the Republican Party over whether to stick with or adjust the statutory spending caps is placing heightened attention on the fiscal 2016 budget resolution each chamber is required to draft. With markups of the resolutions by the House and Senate Budget committees only two weeks away, battle lines between defense hawks and fiscal hawks in the party are becoming increasingly clear. Defense hawks are insisting the Obama administration’s $534 billion base DOD budget proposal for FY 2016 is not high enough — even though it exceeds the Budget Control Act cap by $35 billion — while fiscal conservatives favor sticking with the spending limits as the best way to trim the deficit. Several defense experts interviewed by Politico underscored the heightened support among Republicans for raising the defense cap, but said at this point it’s still too soon to say how congressional leaders will settle on topline spending levels …

Fiscal Constraints are Degrading Navy Readiness, Greenert Testifies

  • March 6, 2015
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The Navy’s readiness and capabilities have suffered after three consecutive years of budget constraints, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations, told lawmakers Wednesday. “Navy readiness is at its lowest point in many years,” Greenert told the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. “The budget reductions have forced us to cut afloat and ashore operations, it has generated a ship and aircraft maintenance backlog, and it has compelled us to extend unit deployments …

President Nominates Conger to Number Two Position in Comptroller’s Office

  • March 4, 2015
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John Conger — who currently is the Pentagon’s acting assistant secretary of defense for energy, installations and environment — was nominated Wednesday by President Obama to be the principal deputy to the department’s comptroller. Conger obtained his current title in December after DOD merged its installations and operational energy organizations to comply with the newly enacted fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill. Previously Conger had been acting deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment, a title he assumed in September 2012 after Dorothy Robyn vacated the top installations slot. He joined DOD in 2009 as the assistant deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment. Conger will need to be confirmed as principal deputy undersecretary of defense (comptroller) by the Senate before taking the new post.

Appropriations Panel Tells Carter to Live within the Spending Cap

  • March 4, 2015
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Forcing the Defense Department to live within the statutory budget caps would be detrimental to the nation’s security, new Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee on Wednesday, but the panel delivered the sobering message that the spending limits very likely are here to stay. “I completely agree that the BCA [Budget Control Act] needs to be modified to avoid dramatic, immediate and long-term negative impacts on our military capabilities,” said Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen. “But unless and until the law is changed, this committee has no choice but to draft our bill to comply with the BCA caps …

New BRAC Round Would Generate Savings, Conger Says

  • March 4, 2015
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The Pentagon’s senior installations official told lawmakers Tuesday that the BRAC round DOD is requesting would realize savings much more quickly than the 2005 round. “We look at the next round as an efficiency-driven one,” John Conger, acting assistant secretary of defense for energy, installations and environment, told the House Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee. “In such a budget environment as we have today, it only makes sense to avoid spending money on excess …

Installation Chiefs Turn up the Heat to Make Case for BRAC

  • March 3, 2015
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The military’s installation chiefs made an impassioned plea to lawmakers on Tuesday for permission to hold a BRAC round in 2017, fine tuning their previous arguments and making clear the consequences if Congress rejects the Pentagon’s request for a new round of base closures for the fourth year in a row. Two of the witnesses came to the House Armed Services’ Readiness Subcommittee hearing with new estimates of the amount of excess infrastructure capacity their services are saddled with. An analysis based on fiscal 2013 data concluded the Army has an 18 percent facility excess, said Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary for installations, energy and environment. That figure was based on an active-duty end strength of 490,000, which the Army will reach by the end of the year …

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