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,” she said. The Army now faces a $3 billion maintenance backlog.
“We are underfunded and we have more requirements than the budget is allowing us to fix,” Hammack told the panel.
In an interview with Federal News Radio, Hammack explained how budget cuts are triggering a vicious cycle of mounting maintenance costs.
“If we don’t sustain [facilities], we fall into the next category of restoration and modernizations costs, and the backlog in that category has increased 9.3 percent,” she said. “And if we don’t have the funding to catch up with projects in restoration and modernization, they slip into the failing category, where your only choice is replacement.”
“We’re increasing the cost for future generations,” she told lawmakers.
The Army’s FY 2016 budget request calls for a 26 percent increase over current year funding for military construction and family housing.
“Some might think that’s high, but if you look at it, in reality it’s a 33 percent reduction from 2014, and a 55 percent reduction from 2013,” Hammack told Federal News Radio. “It is still a very low budget.”
A webcast of the readiness panel hearing is available on the committee website.