The Pentagon’s case for conducting a new round of base closures could be stronger if it had measured whether the goals of the 2005 round of base closures — reducing excess infrastructure, transforming the military and promoting jointness — were achieved, according to a recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Instead officials from DOD and the services tracked their progress completing the BRAC Commission’s recommendations by the September 2011 statutory deadline and measured the cost savings associated with them. The congressional watchdog agency found that the department did not have the necessary data to calculate how much excess infrastructure was disposed of during the 2005 round.
With no way to evaluate whether the last BRAC round achieved its goals, DOD cannot demonstrate whether the services’ realignment and closure actions improved their efficiency and effectiveness, preventing it from showing Congress that the benefits of a future BRAC round would outweigh the upfront implementation costs, the agency said.
In March 2013, GAO recommended that “in the event of any future BRAC round, DOD identify appropriate measures of effectiveness and develop a plan to demonstrate the extent to which the department achieved the results intended from the implementation of the BRAC round.” But DOD opposed the recommendation, stating that military value should be the primary driver for BRAC. In the new report, GAO calls for Congress to “consider, in any future BRAC authorization, a requirement for DOD to identify appropriate measures of effectiveness and to track the achievement of its goals.”
DOD opposed that recommendation as well, stating it would “subvert the statutory requirement that military value be the priority consideration,” according to the report. Its recommendation does not, however, undermine the department’s reliance on military value as the primary selection criteria for its candidate BRAC recommendations, GAO notes.
“If Congress would like to increase its oversight for any future BRAC round, requiring DOD to identify appropriate measures of effectiveness and track achievement of its goals would provide it with improved visibility over the expected outcome,” the agency states.