It’s no surprise that the final version of this year’s defense authorization bill doesn’t include congressional approval for a new BRAC round, as the Trump administration did not request one in February. The conference report for the fiscal 2019 measure, though, does include a new authority for closing or realigning installations outside of the normal BRAC process if the governor recommends downsizing the facility. The governor’s notice would need to include statements of support from local governments that would be affected as well as a detailed plan for reusing the property. As a result of those conditions, it’s not clear if the new authority will prove useful to the Pentagon, or even meet the House Armed Services Committee’s stated goal of shuttering small installations that have outlasted their usefulness.
If the Pentagon accepts a governor’s recommendation to close or realign an installation, it would need to inform Congress when it submits the annual budget. That report would need to include:
- the reasons the defense secretary believes “it is in the interest of the United States” to accept the governor’s recommendation;
- a plan describing the required work, cost and timing for all actions needed to carry out the realignment or closure, including new construction or renovation of existing facilities; and
- a certification that the savings generated by the action will exceed the implementation costs within five years after the move is completed, an estimate of the annual recurring savings and the amount of time needed for the savings to exceed the implementation costs.
DOD would need to wait 90 days after it informs Congress to begin carrying out the closure or realignment. Section 2702 also limits the department to spending $2 billion through FY 2029 for carrying out all closures and realignments for which it relies on the authority. The authority would terminate at the end of FY 2029.
The provision would apply to any size facility, despite the description in the committee’s summary of the conference report characterizing the language as applying to small installations.
Photo by Carol Highsmith