Senior Army officials on Thursday made the case that shedding some of the service’s inventory of unneeded facilities by closing installations and consolidating the Army’s activities is the only way to produce significant savings and improve installation support.
“If we try to spread declining resources across all 155 installations the Army owns and operates, you are going to get mediocre services everywhere,” Andy Napoli, assistant for BRAC in the office of the assistant secretary for installations, energy and environment, told representatives from veterans service organizations, military service organizations and other nonprofits at a Pentagon summit. “If you can concentrate the resources at a smaller number of installations, you can get better service,” Napoli said.
The Army is facing the challenge of maintaining 170 million square feet of underutilized space, a $500 million annual burden.
“It costs roughly the same amount of money to heat and cool a building and operate it, whether it has 100 percent occupancy or 50 percent occupancy,” Napoli said, reported the Army News Service.
But simply shuttering underutilized facilities won’t generate substantial savings because of the fixed costs associated with operating an installation. Support services — such as garbage collection, road maintenance and military family programs — still must be provided across the installation.
“What that really means is that our force structure and our population goes down, unless you are closing an installation and permanently eliminating that requirement, you’re not going to have a lot of opportunity to save money,” Napoli said.
And with funding for facilities constrained, savings is critical.
“We don’t really get what we say we need,” said Diane Randon, acting assistant chief of staff for installation management. But, she added, “We haven’t gotten the worst we could have gotten.”
The Army is coping with funding for facilities restoration and modernization that is “deficient,” Randon said, as is funding for military construction. “It’s at a historic low.”