Excess Capacity Estimates Likely Inaccurate, GAO Finds

Excess Capacity Estimates Likely Inaccurate, GAO Finds

DOD’s recent analysis of its excess capacity suffered from analytical limitations and relied on unreasonable assumptions, resulting in estimates that cannot support decision making about future BRAC rounds, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). “Without improvements to DOD’s method of estimating excess capacity, DOD is not providing the information that Congress requires to make decisions concerning the management of excess infrastructure capacity within the department,” the congressional watchdog agency said. “Similarly, DOD does not have the information it needs to appropriately manage its infrastructure capacity and therefore cannot make informed decisions about what it needs to support its mission as land and infrastructure requirements of newer weapon systems are introduced,” the report concluded.

An October 2017 study by DOD estimated that 19 percent of its infrastructure was excess, ranging from a 6 percent excess in Navy infrastructure to a 29 percent excess in Army facilities. The DOD study — an update of one conducted in March 2016 — and the GAO report were mandated by the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill.

GAO identified three key limitations in DOD’s analysis:

  • the analysis offered no clear rationale for using a 1989 baseline for excess capacity — it does not offer an estimate of the amount of excess that existed at that time, and it fails to account for updated facility standards and requirements, and new weapons systems;
  • it includes assumptions that may not be reasonable — for example, when the estimate for a particular installation category indicated a shortfall in capacity, DOD’s analysis showed only that no excess exists; also, officials assigned each installation to only one mission category even though most bases support multiple missions; and
  • DOD and the military departments failed to use a representative sample of different types of installations to develop an excess capacity estimate, and the individual military departments did not follow a consistent approach in calculating excess capacity and accounting for joint bases.


Photo by David Gleason

Dan Cohen
Dan Cohen

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