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BRAC Costs 67% More Than Anticipated

BRAC, the 2005 round of Base Realignment and Closure that resulted in the closing of Fort Monroe in Hampton and the merging of some common functions at four local Hampton Roads bases that resulted in the creation of Joint Base Langley-Eustis on the Peninsula and Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story in VA Beach was supposed to save the government $36 billion by 2025. But the Pentagon spent 67% more money (an increase of about $14.1 billion), than it projected on up-front costs, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.

The streamlining effort was designed to effect Pentagon savings – specifically, an estimated $4.2 billion per year in net annual recurring savings – but instead has been compounded by increasing costs, particularly in military construction. That $4.2 billion in annual savings currently stands at $3.8 billion, a decline of almost 10 percent, GAO reported.

The 2005 round of BRAC was the fifth, and most ambitious, of activities to realign the military that began in 1988, costing nearly as much as the previous four rounds combined in order to “enhance the military value.” It included hundreds of actions involving 800 defense locations and the planned relocation of 125,000 personnel, GAO noted.

The initial plan was to generate recurring savings to be reinvested in other DOD programs. It was designed to yield a 20-year net present value – which represents both the up-front investment costs and long-term savings – of nearly $36 billion. That number has fallen by 72 percent, to about $10 billion.

Locally, the realignment of various combat service support functions from four other installations to Fort Lee had implementation costs increase by $660 million (88 percent), driven primarily by facility construction costs. Requirements for establishing the Combat Service Support Center were more fully developed in the early stages of implementation, which not only increased the scope of planned construction, but also identified the need to build a new Warrior Training Facility at Fort A. P. Hill, Virginia, as well as a health and dental clinic at Fort Lee. There were also smaller increases in the costs of environmental compliance, and transportation costs for moving equipment such as oversized tactical vehicles and weapon systems from Aberdeen Proving Ground to Fort Lee.

In addition to the 14 recommendations that had the largest dollar increases in estimated costs, also identified were five recommendations that experienced cost increases of over 1,000 percent compared to the BRAC Commission’s estimates. Local overruns include BRAC recommendation to establish Joint Center for consolidated transportation management training at Fort Lee, VA . Its estimate was $ 1.5 million, actual costs so far were : $29.1 million ( an increase of 1,840%.

Another overrun at Ft Lee was the recommendation to establish Joint Center of Excellence for culinary training at Fort Lee, VA . The 2005 BRAC cost estimate was $ 5.4 million. Actual costs were $73.1 million an increase of $67.7 million or 1,254%

Disappointment with cutbacks launched during the presidency of George W. Bush make it unlikely that an election-year Congress will approve the Obama administration’s request for two more rounds of base cuts in coming years as part of the latest Pentagon budget proposal.

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