RAND Report Offers Insight into the Wealth of Installation-Community Partnerships

Partnerships between military installations and neighboring communities can produce a variety of benefits for both parties, including cost savings or revenue, as well as a range of non-monetary benefits such as an enhanced military mission, and improved installation and community operations and services, according to a new report by the RAND Corp.

Other benefits include access to additional expertise and resources; enhanced outreach to military personnel and their families; and energy and environmental advantages.

But beyond cost savings and other concrete benefits, installation partnerships “are often more about long-term, mutually beneficial relationships and strategic issues than saving money. Such partnerships are strategically important to the long-term function and mission of installations,” the report concludes.

For example, installation partnerships can improve strategic regional collaboration. Some of the benefits of partnerships accrue to installations, while others help the community.

“Communities and installations definitely both benefit in most installation and community partnerships. Often there are multiple benefits for both the communities and installations,” Beth Lachman, a RAND policy analyst and one of the report’s three authors, told 360.

“In some cases, the community benefits are more obvious than the installation ones. A good example occurs at Aberdeen Proving Ground where the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program has partnered with the community for single soldiers to help in Habitat for Humanity projects and playing baseball with children as part of the League of Dreams,” Lachman said.

For installation officials focused on saving money, the report identifies the five partnership categories that generate the most cost savings or avoidance:

  • the community provides a service at a lower cost than the installation had been paying;
  • the community provides a service at little or no cost, allowing the installation to eliminate it and, possibly, close a facility;
  • the installation leases or sells land or another high-value asset;
  • the community funds an installation service or construction of a facility; and
  • the community provides additional capacity to the base, allowing it to avoid a costly facility investment.

“In considering future installation partnerships, especially when the main consideration is budget concerns, it is also important to remember that partnership options are just one way to provide an installation service and that a range of other alternatives exists,” the report states.

Beyond chronicling the array of benefits generated by installation-community partnerships, the 211-page report provides a comprehensive overview of the different functional areas in which installations and municipalities have formed partnerships, and the range of challenges both sides encounter in reaching partnership agreements.

“Installation partnerships often face a series of hurdles that have to be overcome to be successfully developed and implemented,” Lachman said.

“Such hurdles range from basic resistance to change, cultural differences, difficulties in sharing risk, manpower issues, and partnership agreement or contract issues. Other challenges can include constraints in expertise, support and resources, and place-specific partnership obstacles based on unique local circumstances,” she said.

Overcoming these barriers requires extra effort, time and resources, states the report, which discusses more than 200 different examples to demonstrate the range of forms that partnerships can take.

Dan Cohen
Dan Cohen
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