[Skip to Content]
  • CLICK HERE FOR AN IMPORTANT NOTICE AFFECTING OEA GRANT PAYMENTS AND AWARDS FROM APRIL 20 THROUGH MAY 4, 2015

March 3, 2015 – Military Times, By Leo Shane, III

Pentagon planners have a new pitch to lawmakers skeptical of a fresh round of base closings: We promise we’ll save money this time.

In recent years, White House and defense officials repeatedly have broached the idea of launching another base closing process to dump excess military facility space.

And most lawmakers repeatedly and angrily have rejected the idea, calling the process divisive and costly.

But that perception is the fault of the last base realignment and closing process, according to John Conger, acting assistant secretary of defense for installations.

Military aircraft at Naval Air Station Oceana
The 2005 round of base closings and realignments targeted Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia. As defense officials discuss another BRAC, they will have to persuade lawmakers such politically unpopular legislation will save money. (Photo: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

He told members of the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday that the much-reviled 2005 round had many recommendations “not designed to save any money” and was more about rebalancing the force than cutting costs. He also said defense officials are focused on not taking that approach again.

“We look at the next round as an efficiency-driven one,” Conger said. “In such a budget environment as we have today, it only makes sense to avoid spending money on excess.”

Officials estimate that the military’s U.S. footprint is at least 25 percent bigger than it needs to be, given the force’s shrinking personnel levels. Trimming infrastructure by just 5 percent, they say, could save about $2 billion annually in reduced upkeep costs.

But the department estimated similar excess capacity in 2004, when the last Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round was approved. It reduced the military infrastructure by less than 3.5 percent and ended up costing more than $35 billion to achieve roughly $4 billion in future annual savings.

Lawmakers repeatedly have said that the Defense Department cannot afford similarly high up-front costs again, given the pressures on the defense budget. They’ve also been reluctant to sign on to shifting military personnel and jobs out of their own districts, a proposal in the past that has caused significant local economic problems in some communities.

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., said the current BRAC authority — written more than 25 years ago — is too archaic for the future needs of the force.

He suggested lawmakers may be amenable to a review of segments of facility use — a review of military housing and privatization options, for example — instead of a full base closing round.

Last year, Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, offered similar revisions to the BRAC process, including a shorter timeframe for realizing savings and more flexibility for Congress to respond to the recommendations.

But Conger said defense officials oppose those ideas, and instead remain confident that a base closing round, done right, still can be a success.

“When we want to save money with BRAC, we do,” he said.

 

The information above is for general awareness only and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Economic Adjustment or the Department of Defense as a whole.

In the News

  • With or without BRAC, DoD’s footprint is shrinking

    April 8, 2015 – Federal News Radio, By Jared Serbu In each of the past four years, the Pentagon has proposed a new round of base closures and Congress has rejected every one so far. But with or without lawmakers’ approval, the military’s footprint is shrinking. The Defense Department has hinted...

    Read More...

  • Not Your Grandfather’s Factories

    Governing (Voices of the Governing Institute), By Anne Kim – April 8, 2015 It’s not easy for manufacturing to attract the younger, skilled workers that it needs. We need to focus on both the educational pipeline and public perceptions. For much of the past 30 years, the American public’s view of...

    Read More...

  • Improving Public Services: The Secrets of Award-Winning Cities

    April 6, 2015 – Governing, By John M. Kamensky Local governments, their citizens and community interest groups all want better service delivery, and more than ever are looking to technology to make that happen. But technology alone won’t work. What cities that have been recognized for innovations...

    Read More...

  • Looming Army cuts fill Texas leaders with dread

    April 4, 2015 – San Antonio Express-News, By Sig Christenson Automatic federal spending cuts over the last three years have hurt several Texas cities with large military installations — part of the budget sequester that will reduce the size of the Army by 80,000...

    Read More...

  • IMCOM leaders set sights on 2025

    April 2, 2015 – Hawai’i Army Weekly (Army News Service) SAN ANTONIO — U.S. Army Installation Management Command top leaders held a conference, here, for garrison commanders and command sergeants major to set a collective course for IMCOM 2025 and Beyond.

    Read More...

  • Budgets Signal Sequester Cuts Here to Stay

    March 30, 2015 – Defense News, By John T. Bennett WASHINGTON — What to do about sequestration is one issue House and Senate negotiators can skip as they craft a compromise 2016 federal budget blueprint. That’s because spending resolutions approved last week by the House and Senate both leave the...

    Read More...