Smith to Introduce BRAC Authorization Amendment Again

For the second consecutive year, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, plans to offer an amendment to the annual defense policy bill approving a new round of base closures.

As Smith did last year, he plans to introduce the amendment when the committee marks up the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill today, but withdraw it in the hopes of receiving a vote on the House floor, reported CQ Roll Call. Last year, however, the House Rules Committee blocked Smith’s proposal from receiving a vote when the House debated the measure.

In addition to authorizing a BRAC round in 2017, the amendment is expected to include some reforms to the base closure process. For instance, it would require the defense secretary to certify that base closures would result in net savings within six years, according to the story. That declaration would be due when the department submits its new budget request next February.

On Monday, Smith criticized the chairman’s mark of the authorization bill for prohibiting the Pentagon from carrying out a BRAC round and forcing “the Department of Defense to maintain and operate costly facilities that it does not need or want.” 

The amendment Smith introduced last year called for a variety of changes to how a BRAC round is conducted:

  • the secretary of defense would be required to certify that the primary objective of a BRAC round would be to eliminate excess infrastructure and reconfigure the remaining infrastructure to maximize efficiency, in contrast to achieving transformation;  
  • any realignments must yield net savings within five years of completing the action;
  • to control implementation costs, the proposal would require DOD to submit master plans — which would include the cost, scope and timing of each construction activity — for each recommendation to the BRAC commission; once a closure is approved, the plan would be the binding authority for expending BRAC funds;
  • the commission would be required to certify that it has sufficient staff to review the secretary’s recommendations and time to consider public comments, receive testimony and conduct additional site visits; and
  • information provided by DOD about installations — including assessment data on the condition of facilities and the environmental baseline — would be available for public review.
Dan Cohen
Dan Cohen
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