Did Defense Department Use Accurate Information When Making BRAC Recommendations?

Senate committee leaders are requesting government auditors – when reviewing the BRAC process – to ensure that DoD used accurate information before making its recommendations.

Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Susan Collins (R-Maine) and ranking member Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) are requesting government auditors – when reviewing the Base Realignment and Closure Commission process – to ensure that the Department of Defense used accurate information before making its recommendations.

In a letter to Government Accountability Office Comptroller General David Walker, the two senators, whose states contain military bases slated for closure, also expressed dismay that DoD has not provided Congress with all the information used by the Defense Secretary to make his recommendations, as required by law.

“DoD’s failure to disclose this information to Congress obstructs the ability of congress to undertake a substantive review of the Secretary’s recommendations, a process that is expressly contemplated by the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act,” the senators wrote, in a letter dated May 25, 2005. “DoD has been on notice of the need to disclose such data since the current base closure round was authorized… and has no excuse for the delay in releasing the data.”

In their letter, the senators outlined nine issues they believe GAO must review in detail. Among them are ensuring that:

  • The original data provided by military installations to the DoD was accurate, and that DoD requested sufficient and appropriate types of information. “We hope GAO will spot-check data provided by various bases to validate its veracity,” the senators wrote.
  • DoD calculated the full range of costs associated with realignments, for example, the cost of federal aid to communities that will need for housing and schools if they are to absorb thousands of new personnel and their families.
  • DoD calculated the costs unique to each base. The Groton nuclear submarine base, for example, contains 15 Superfund hazardous environmental sites. “GAO should assess whether environmental remediation and nuclear decommissioning entail substantial new costs that materially alter the projected payback period,” the letter said.
  • DoD considered the full range of options available to it, including shifting workloads and expanding private sector involvement at certain bases. “We request that GAO explain why DoD recommended closing particular bases and preserving other, similar bases, rather than realigning all of them, and whether the existence of private sector capabilities such as private shipyards factored into DoD’s judgments,” the senators wrote.
  • DoD maintained the integrity of its decision-making process. Since GAO has been monitoring the BRAC process all along, it should inform us whether the final decisions were substantiated by the data and the review process that led up to that point.

“The GAO can help us know, quite bluntly, if the facts back up the Defense Department’s decisions, and, if not, why not?” the senators stated in conclusion.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47