In the Obama administration’s last year, the Pentagon has raised the urgency of a new round of base closures, threatening to take unilateral action if lawmakers once again reject its request.
“The need to reduce unneeded facilities is so critical that, in the absence of authorization of a new round of BRAC, the department will explore any and all authorities that Congress has provided to eliminate wasteful infrastructure,” according to an overview of DOD’s fiscal 2017 budget request.
The department’s budget, released Tuesday, calls for a new BRAC round in 2019; the last several budgets had requested a new round in 2017.
“The year proposed is now 2019 … just because it’s physically impossible, given the restrictions on our activities to have one in 2017 based on where we are now,” DOD Comptroller Mike McCord told reporters.
The proposal includes $4.0 million in FY 2017 for planning and oversight of a new BRAC. Defense officials already are figuring out how much of the department’s infrastructure is excess, as directed under the FY 2016 defense authorization bill.
The budget overview underscores the need for the department to redirect its scarce funds from facility maintenance to readiness, while pointing out that “underutilized military facilities create a drag on the economies of their host communities.”
The overview indicates DOD is not contemplating any changes in the existing BRAC process, despite lawmakers’ concerns about the cost of carrying out the 2005 round.
“[DOD] requests Congress to authorize a new BRAC round in 2019, using the established statutory process that has proven, repeatedly, to be the only effective and fair way to eliminate excess infrastructure and reconfigure what must remain.”