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United States Government Accountability Office: 


Before the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and 
Emergency Management, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, 
House of Representatives: 

For Release on Delivery: 
Expected at 10:00 a.m. EDT:
Wednesday, April 6, 2011: 

Federal Real Property: 

Progress Made on Planning and Data, but Unneeded Owned and Leased 
Facilities Remain: 

Statement of David J. Wise, Director:
Physical Infrastructure Issues: 

Brian J. Lepore, Director:
Defense Capabilities and Management Issues: 


GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-11-520T, a testimony before the Subcommittee on 
Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management, 
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, House of 

Why GAO Did This Study: 

The federal government holds more than 45,000 underutilized properties 
that cost nearly $1.7 billion annually to operate, yet significant 
obstacles impede efforts to close, consolidate, or find other uses for 
them. In January 2003, GAO designated federal real property management 
as a high-risk area, in part because of the number and cost of these 
properties. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is responsible 
for reviewing federal agencies’ progress in real property management. 
In 2007, GAO recommended that OMB assist agencies by developing an 
action plan to address key obstacles associated with decisions related 
to unneeded real property, including stakeholder influence. The 
President’s fiscal year 2012 budget proposed establishing a 
legislative framework for disposing of and consolidating civilian real 
property, referred to as a Civilian Property Realignment Act (CPRA), 
which may be designed to address stakeholder influences in real 
property decision making. 

This testimony identifies (1) obstacles to effectively managing 
federal real property, (2) actions designed to overcome those 
obstacles, including government actions and CPRA, and (3) key elements 
of the Department of Defense’s (DOD) base realignment and closure 
(BRAC) process that are designed to help DOD close or realign 
installations and may be relevant for CPRA. To do this work, GAO 
reviewed GAO reports, other reports, and CPRA. 

What GAO Found: 

In designating federal real property management as a high-risk issue 
in 2003, GAO found that the federal government faced a number of 
obstacles to effectively managing its real property. These included 
its lack of strategic focus on real property issues, a lack of 
reliable real property data, legal limitations, and stakeholder 
influence. That year, GAO reported that despite the magnitude and 
complexity of real-property-related problems, there was no 
governmentwide strategic focus on real property issues and that 
governmentwide data were unreliable and outdated. GAO also reported 
then that before disposing of excess property, the General Services 
Administration is legally required to follow a lengthy screening 
process, which includes offering the property to other federal 
agencies and other entities for public uses. Furthermore, stakeholders—
including local governments, private real estate interests, and 
advocacy groups—may have different interests that do not always align 
with the most efficient use of government resources. 

Since 2003, the federal government has taken steps to address some of 
these obstacles and improve its real property management. For 
instance, the administration and real-property-holding agencies have 
improved their strategic management of real property by establishing 
an interagency Federal Real Property Council designed to enhance real 
property planning processes. The government has also implemented 
controls to improve the reliability of federal real property data. 
However, many problems related to unneeded property and leasing have 
persisted because legal limitations and stakeholder influences remain. 
GAO’s 2007 recommendation that OMB develop an action plan is designed 
to address these problems. In addition, CPRA proposes an independent 
board to identify facilities for disposal and consolidation, which 
could streamline legal requirements and mitigate stakeholder 

Congress authorized DOD to undergo five BRAC rounds to reduce excess 
property and realign DOD’s workload to achieve efficiencies and 
savings in property management. The BRAC process, much like CPRA, was 
designed to address obstacles to closures or realignments, thus 
permitting DOD to close installations or realign its missions to 
better use its facilities and generate savings. GAO’s prior work on 
the BRAC process identified certain key elements that may be 
applicable to managing civilian real property, such as establishing 
goals and an organizational structure, developing criteria and an 
analytical framework, using a model to estimate costs and savings, and 
involving the audit community to better ensure data accuracy. A key 
similarity between BRAC and CPRA is that both establish an independent 
board that reviews agency recommendations; a key difference is that 
the BRAC process created criteria for selecting installations for 
realignment while CPRA does not include specific criteria to be used 
to select properties for disposal or consolidation. 

View [hyperlink,] or key 
components. For more information, contact David Wise at (202) 512-2834 
or or Brian Lepore at (202) 512-4523 or 

[End of section] 

Chairman Denham, Ranking Member Norton, and Members of the 

Thank you for the opportunity to testify today on our work related to 
excess and underutilized federal real property held by the General 
Services Administration (GSA) and other agencies, as well as our work 
on the military Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process. As we 
have previously testified before this Subcommittee, the federal 
government occupies more owned and leased buildings than it needs. In 
fiscal year 2009, 24 landholding agencies, including the Department of 
Defense (DOD), reported 45,190 underutilized buildings with a total of 
341 million square feet, or 1,830 more such buildings than they 
reported the previous fiscal year. These underutilized buildings cost 
$1.66 billion annually to operate and are potentially valuable. The 
federal government also leases more property than is cost-efficient, 
resulting in millions of dollars of additional costs to the federal 
government. Since 2008, GSA has leased more property than it owns 
[Footnote 1]--more than 8,000 buildings--even though owning a federal 
building is often a more cost-effective way of meeting an agency's 
long-term space needs.[Footnote 2] Because of these and other issues, 
we designated the management of federal real property as a high-risk 
area in January 2003 and retained that designation in our February 
2011 high-risk update.[Footnote 3] Similarly, DOD has faced long-term 
challenges in managing its portfolio of facilities, halting 
degradation of facilities, and reducing unneeded infrastructure to 
free up funds to better maintain the facilities that it still uses and 
meet other needs. DOD's management of its support infrastructure is 
also on our high-risk list, in part because of challenges DOD faces in 
reducing excess and obsolete infrastructure.[Footnote 4] 

As you know, DOD has been working through the BRAC process to reduce 
the amount of unneeded property that it owns and leases. This process, 
which is designed to address the obstacles to rightsizing domestic 
military installations, may also be applicable to civilian real 
property management. Our testimony today will identify (1) obstacles 
to effectively managing federal real property, (2) actions designed to 
overcome those obstacles such as actions the government has taken and 
the legislative framework for disposing of and consolidating civilian 
real property proposed in the President's fiscal year 2012 budget, 
referred to as the Civilian Property Realignment Act (CPRA), and (3) 
key elements of the BRAC process that are designed to help DOD close 
or realign installations and may be relevant for CPRA. 

[End of section] 

To address these objectives, we reviewed previous GAO reports, reports 
by the interagency Federal Real Property Council (FRPC), and CPRA. We 
performed this work from March 2011 to April 2011 in accordance with 
generally accepted government auditing standards. Those standards 
require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain sufficient, 
appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our findings 
and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that the 
evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and 
conclusions based on our audit objectives. 


The federal real property portfolio is vast and diverse--totaling over 
900,000 buildings and structures--including office buildings, 
warehouses, laboratories, hospitals, and family housing--worth 
hundreds of billions of dollars. The six largest federal property 
holders--DOD, GSA, the U.S. Postal Service, and the Departments of 
Veterans Affairs (VA), Energy, and the Interior--occupy 87.6 percent 
of the total square footage in federal buildings. Over all, the 
federal government owns approximately 83 percent of this space and 
leases or otherwise manages the rest; however, these proportions vary 
by agency. For example GSA, the central leasing agent for most 
agencies, now leases more space than it owns. After we designated 
federal real property as a high-risk area in 2003, the President 
signed Executive Order 13327 in February 2004, which established new 
federal property guidelines for 24 executive branch departments and 
agencies. Among other things, the executive order called for creating 
the interagency FRPC to develop guidance, collect best practices, and 
help agencies improve the management of their real property assets. 

DOD has undergone four BRAC rounds since 1988 and is currently 
implementing its fifth round.[Footnote 5] Generally, the purpose of 
prior BRAC rounds was to generate savings to apply to other 
priorities, reduce property deemed excess to needs, and realign DOD's 
workload and workforce to achieve efficiencies in property management. 
As a result of the prior BRAC rounds in 1988, 1991, 1993, and 1995, 
DOD reported that it had reduced its domestic infrastructure, 
transferred hundreds of thousands of acres of unneeded property to 
other federal and nonfederal entities, and saved billions of dollars 
annually that could be applied to other higher priority defense needs. 
The 2005 BRAC round affected hundreds of locations across the country 
through 24 major closures, 24 major realignments, and 765 lesser 
actions, which also included terminating leases and consolidating 
various activities.[Footnote 6] Legislation authorizing the 2005 BRAC 
round maintained requirements established for the three previous BRAC 
rounds that GAO provide a detailed analysis of DOD's recommendations 
and of the BRAC selection process. We submitted our report to Congress 
in July 2005 and testified before the BRAC Commission soon thereafter. 
[Footnote 7] Since that time, GAO has published annual reports on the 
progress, challenges, and costs and savings of the 2005 round, in 
addition to numerous reports on other aspects of implementing the 2005 
BRAC round.[Footnote 8] 

Underlying Obstacles Have Impeded the Government's Ability to Dispose 
of Unneeded Property and Reduce Overreliance on Costly Leasing: 

When we designated federal real property management as high risk, we 
reported that the federal government faced a number of obstacles to 
effectively managing its real property. These included a lack of 
strategic focus on real property issues, a lack of reliable real 
property data, legal limitations, and stakeholder influences in real 
property decision making. 

Lack of Strategic Focus on Real Property Issues: 

In 2003, we reported that despite the magnitude and complexity of real-
property-related problems, there had been no governmentwide strategic 
focus on real property issues. Not having a strategic focus can lead 
to ineffective decision making, such as choosing to rely too much on 
leasing for long-term government property needs. In 2008, we found 
that decisions to lease selected federal properties were not always 
driven by cost-effectiveness considerations. For example, we estimated 
that the decision to lease the Federal Bureau of Investigation's field 
office in Chicago, Illinois, instead of constructing a building the 
government would own, cost about $40 million more over 30 years. GSA 
officials noted that limited availability of upfront capital was one 
of the reasons that prevented ownership at that time. Federal budget 
scorekeeping rules require the full cost of construction to be 
recorded up front in the budget, whereas only the annual lease 
payments plus cancellation costs need to be recorded for operating 
leases. In April 2007 and January 2008, we recommended that the Office 
of Management and Budget (OMB) develop a strategy to reduce agencies' 
reliance on costly leasing where ownership would result in long-term 
savings. We noted that such a strategy could identify the conditions 
under which leasing is an acceptable alternative, include an analysis 
of real property budget scoring issues, and provide an assessment of 
viable alternatives. OMB concurred with this recommendation but has 
not yet developed a strategy to reduce agencies' reliance on leasing. 

Lack of Reliable Real Property Data: 

In 2003, we found that a lack of reliable real property data 
compounded real property management problems. The governmentwide data 
maintained at that time were unreliable, out of date, and of limited 
value. In addition, certain key data that would be useful for 
budgeting and strategic management were not being maintained, such as 
data on space utilization, facility condition, historical 
significance, security, and age. We also found that some of the major 
real-property-holding agencies faced challenges developing reliable 
data on their real property assets. We noted that reliable 
governmentwide and agency-specific real property data are critical for 
addressing real property management challenges. For example, better 
data would help the government determine whether assets are being used 
efficiently, make investment decisions, and identify unneeded 

Legal Limitations: 

In our February 2011 high-risk update,[Footnote 9] we noted that a 
third obstacle to consolidating federal properties is the legal 
requirements agencies must adhere to before disposing of a property, 
such as requirements for screening and environmental cleanup. 
Currently, before GSA can dispose of a property that a federal agency 
no longer needs, it is required to offer the property to other federal 
agencies. If other federal agencies do not have a need for the 
property, GSA must then make the property available to state and local 
governments and certain nonprofit organizations and institutions for 
public benefit uses such as homeless shelters, educational facilities, 
or fire or police training centers. As a result of this lengthy 
process, GSA's underutilized or excess properties may remain in an 
agency's possession for years and continue to accumulate maintenance 
and operations costs. Further complicating this issue is that 
different agencies have different authorities to enter into leases 
with public and private entities for the use of federal property, to 
sell real property, and to retain the proceeds from these 
transactions. For example, DOD has the authority to both enter into 
these leases and retain proceeds for the sale of properties, but the 
Department of Justice does not have the authority to do either. In 
addition, federal agencies are required by law to assess and pay for 
any environmental cleanup that may be needed before disposing of a 
property--a process that may require years of study and result in 
significant costs. In some cases, the cost of the environmental 
cleanup may exceed the costs of continuing to maintain the excess 
property in a shut-down status. We have also noted that the National 
Historic Preservation Act, as amended, requires agencies to manage 
historic properties under their control and jurisdiction and to 
consider the effects of their actions on historic preservation. Since 
properties more than 50 years old are eligible for historic 
designation and the average age of properties in GSA's portfolio is 46 
years, this issue will soon become critically important to GSA. 

Stakeholder Influences: 

Local stakeholders--including local governments, business interests, 
private real estate interests, sector construction and leasing firms, 
historic preservation organizations, various advocacy groups for 
citizens that benefit from federal programs, and the public in 
general--often view federal facilities as the physical face of the 
federal government in their communities. The interests of these 
multiple and often competing stakeholders may not always align with 
the most efficient use of government resources and can complicate real 
property decisions. For example, as we first reported in 2007, VA 
officials noted that stakeholders and constituencies, such as historic 
building advocates or local communities that want to maintain their 
relationship with VA, often prevent the agency from disposing of 
properties.[Footnote 10] In 2003, we indicated that an independent 
commission or governmentwide task force might be necessary to help 
overcome stakeholder influences in real property decision making. 

The Government Has Adopted a More Strategic Focus to Improve Real 
Property Management and Has Taken Steps to Increase Data Reliability, 
but Other Obstacles Remain: 

The administration and real-property-holding agencies have made 
progress in a number of areas since we designated federal real 
property as high risk in 2003. Specifically, the federal government 
has taken steps toward strategically managing its real property and 
improving the reliability of its real property data. However, many 
problems related to unneeded property and leasing persist because the 
government has not addressed the underlying legal limitations and 
stakeholder influences which we identified. 

As part of the government's efforts to strategically manage its real 
property, the administration established FRPC--a group composed of the 
OMB Controller and the senior real property officers of landholding 
agencies--to support real property reform efforts. Through FRPC, the 
landholding agencies have also established asset management plans, 
standardized real property data reporting, and adopted various 
performance measures to track progress. The asset management plans are 
updated annually and help agencies take a more strategic approach to 
real property management by indicating how real property moves the 
agency's mission forward, outlining the agency's capital management 
plans, and describing how the agency plans to operate its facilities 
and dispose of unneeded real property, including listing current and 
future disposal plans. Although several FRPC member agencies said that 
the body no longer meets regularly, it remains a forum for agency 
coordination on real property issues and could serve a larger role in 
future real property management. 

In our February 2011 high-risk update,[Footnote 11] we reported that 
the federal government has also taken numerous steps since 2003 to 
improve the completeness and reliability of its real property data. 
FRPC, in conjunction with GSA, established the Federal Real Property 
Profile (FRPP) to meet a requirement in Executive Order 13327 for a 
single real property database that includes all real property under 
the control of executive branch agencies. FRPP contains asset-level 
information submitted annually by agencies on 25 high-level data 
elements, including four performance measures that enable agencies to 
track progress in achieving property management objectives. In 
response to our 2007 recommendation to improve the reliability of FRPP 
data, OMB required, and agencies implemented, data validation plans 
that include procedures to verify that the data are accurate and 
complete.[Footnote 12] Furthermore, GSA's Office of Governmentwide 
Policy (OGP), which administers the FRPP database, instituted a data 
validation process that precludes FRPP from accepting an agency's data 
until the data pass all established business rules and data checks. In 
our most recent analysis of the reliability of FRPP data, we found 
none of the basic problems we have previously found, such as missing 
data or inexplicably large changes between years. In addition, 
agencies continue to improve their real property data for their own 
purposes. From a governmentwide perspective, OGP has sufficient 
standards and processes in place for us to consider the 25 elements in 
FRPP as a database that is sufficiently reliable to describe the real 
property holdings of the federal government. Consequently, we removed 
the data element of real property management from the high-risk list 
this year. 

In 2007, we recommended that OMB, which is responsible for reviewing 
agencies' progress on federal real property management, assist 
agencies by developing an action plan to address the key problems 
associated with decisions related to unneeded real property, including 
stakeholder influences. OMB agreed with the recommendation but has yet 
to implement it. However, the administration's recently proposed 
legislative framework, CPRA, is somewhat responsive to this 
recommendation in that it addresses both legal limitations and 
stakeholder influences in real property decision making. According to 
the proposal, the purpose of CPRA would be, in part, to "streamline 
the current legal framework" and "facilitate the disposal of those 
unneeded civilian real properties that are currently subject to legal 
restrictions that prevent their disposal." The proposal itself, 
however, does not describe how this streamlining would be 
accomplished. To address stakeholder influences, CPRA would create an 
independent board to recommend federal properties for disposal or 
consolidation after receiving recommendations from civilian 
landholding agencies. Grouping all disposal and consolidation 
decisions into one list that Congress would vote on in its entirety 
could help to blunt local stakeholder influences at any individual 
site. In addition, CPRA could help to reduce the government's 
overreliance on leasing by recommending that the government 
consolidate operations from leased space to owned space where 

Key Elements That Underpin the Process for Closing or Realigning DOD 
Installations May Be Applicable to Managing Civilian Real Property: 

In our prior work on the BRAC process, we identified certain key 
elements underpinning the process, which may be applicable to the 
management of real property governmentwide. The BRAC process was 
designed to address certain challenges to closures or realignments, 
including stakeholder interests, thereby permitting DOD to dispose of 
installations or realign its missions to better use its facilities and 
generate savings. The 2005 BRAC round followed a historical analytical 
framework, carrying many elements of the process forward or building 
upon lessons learned from previous rounds. DOD also established a 
structured process for obtaining and analyzing data that provided a 
consistent basis for identifying and evaluating closure and 
realignment recommendations, and DOD used a logical, reasoned, and 
well-documented process.[Footnote 13] In addition, we have identified 
lessons learned from DOD's 1988, 1991, 1993, and 1995 rounds,[Footnote 
14] and we have begun an effort to assess lessons learned from the 
2005 BRAC round. 

DOD's 2005 BRAC Process: 

DOD's 2005 BRAC process consisted of a series of legislatively- 
prescribed steps, as follows: 

DOD began to develop options for closure or realignment 
recommendations. The military departments developed service-specific 
installation closure and realignment options. In addition, the Office 
of the Secretary of Defense established seven joint cross-service 
teams, called joint cross-service groups, to develop options across 
common business-oriented functions, such as medical, supply storage, 
and administrative activities. These closure and realignment options 
were reviewed by DOD's Infrastructure Executive Council--a senior-
level policy-making and oversight body for the entire process. Options 
approved by this council were submitted to the Secretary of Defense 
for his review and approval. DOD developed hundreds of closure or 
realignment options for further analysis which eventually led to DOD's 
submitting over 200 recommendations to the BRAC Commission for 
analysis and review. 

BRAC Commission performed an independent review of DOD's 
recommendations. After DOD selected its base closure and realignment 
recommendations, it submitted them to the BRAC Commission, which 
performed an independent review and analysis of DOD's recommendations. 
The Commission could approve, modify, reject, or add closure and 
realignment recommendations.[Footnote 15] Also, the BRAC Commission 
provided opportunities to interested parties, as well as community and 
congressional leaders, to provide testimony and express viewpoints. 
The Commission then voted on each individual closure or realignment 
recommendation, and those that were approved were included in the 
Commission's report to the President. In 2005, the BRAC Commission 
reported that it had rejected or modified about 14 percent of DOD's 
closure and realignment recommendations. 

President approved BRAC recommendations. After receiving the 
recommendations, the President was to review the recommendations of 
the Secretary of Defense and the Commission and prepare a report by 
September 23, 2005, containing his approval or disapproval of the 
Commission's recommendations as a whole. Had the President disapproved 
of the Commissions' recommendations, the Commission would have had 
until October 20, 2005, to submit a revised list of recommendations to 
the President for further consideration. If the President had not 
submitted a report to Congress of his approval of the Commissions 
recommendations by November 7, 2005, the BRAC process would have been 
terminated. The President submitted his report and approval of the 
2005 Commission's recommendations on September 15, 2005. 

Congress allowed the recommendations to become binding. After the 
President transmitted his approval of the Commission's recommendations 
to Congress, the Secretary of Defense would have been prohibited from 
implementing the recommendations if Congress had passed a joint 
resolution of disapproval within 45 days of the date of the 
President's submission or the adjournment of Congress for the session, 
whichever was sooner.[Footnote 16] Since Congress did not pass such a 
resolution, the recommendations became binding in November 2005. 

Congress established clear time frames for implementation. The BRAC 
legislation required DOD to complete recommendations for closing or 
realigning bases made in the BRAC 2005 round within the 6-year time 
frame ending on September 15, 2011, 6 years from the date the 
President submitted his approval of the recommendations to Congress. 
In July 2010, in our most recent report on the implementation of the 
2005 BRAC recommendations, we reported that many DOD locations are 
scheduled to complete actions to implement the recommendations within 
months of the deadline, leaving little or no margin for slippage to 
finish constructing buildings and to move or hire the needed personnel. 

Key Elements That DOD Used to Develop Its 2005 BRAC Recommendations 
Could Be Considered in a Civilian Real Property Closure or Realignment 

In developing its recommendations for the BRAC Commission, DOD relied 
on certain elements, as follows: 

Establish goals for the BRAC process. Prior to the start of the 2005 
BRAC round, the Secretary of Defense emphasized the importance of 
transforming the military to make it more efficient as part of the 
2005 BRAC round. Other goals for the 2005 BRAC process included 
fostering jointness among the four military services, reducing excess 
infrastructure, and producing savings. Prior rounds were more about 
reducing excess infrastructure and producing savings. 

Develop criteria for evaluating closures and realignments. DOD 
initially proposed eight selection criteria, which were made available 
for public comments via the Federal Register. Ultimately, Congress 
enacted the eight final BRAC selection criteria.[Footnote 17] In 
authorizing the 2005 BRAC round, Congress specified that the following 
four selection criteria, known as the "military value criteria," were 
to be given priority in developing closure and realignment 

* current and future mission capabilities and the impact on 
operational readiness of the total force, 

* availability and condition of land, facilities, and associated 
airspace at both the existing and the potential receiving locations, 

* ability to accommodate a surge in the force and future total force 
requirements at both the existing and the potential receiving location 
to support operations and training, and: 

* costs of operations and personnel implications. 

[End of section] 

In addition to military value, Congress specified that DOD was to 
apply the following "other criteria" in developing its recommendations: 

* costs and savings associated with a recommendation, 

* economic impact on local communities near the installations, 

* ability of infrastructure to support forces, missions, and 
personnel, and: 

* environmental impact. 

Additionally, Congress required that the Secretary of Defense develop 
and submit to Congress a force structure plan that laid out the 
numbers, size, and composition of the units that comprise U.S. defense 
forces, for example, divisions, ships, and air wings, based on the 
Secretary's assessment of the probable national security threats for 
the 20-year period beginning in 2005, along with a comprehensive 
inventory of global military installations.[Footnote 18] In 
authorizing the 2005 BRAC round, Congress specified that the Secretary 
of Defense publish a list of recommendations for the closure and 
realignment of military installations inside the United States based 
on the force-structure plan and infrastructure inventory, and on the 
eight final selection criteria. 

Estimate costs and savings to implement closure and realignment 
recommendations. To address the cost and savings criteria, DOD 
developed and used the Cost of Base Realignment Actions model--known 
as COBRA--a quantitative tool that DOD has used since the 1988 BRAC 
round to provide consistency in potential cost, savings, and return-on-
investment estimates for closure and realignment options. We reviewed 
the COBRA model as part of our review of the 2005 and prior BRAC 
rounds and found it to be a generally reasonable estimator for 
comparing potential costs and savings among alternatives. As with any 
model, the quality of the output is a direct function of the input 
data. Also, the COBRA model relies to a large extent on standard 
factors and averages and does not represent budget quality estimates 
that are developed once BRAC decisions are made and detailed 
implementation plans are developed. Nonetheless, the financial 
information provides important input into the selection process as 
decision makers weigh the financial implications--along with military 
value and other factors--in arriving at final decisions regarding the 
suitability of various closure and realignment options. However, based 
on our assessment of the 2005 BRAC round, actual costs and savings 
were different from estimates. As we reported in November 2009, 
[Footnote 19] BRAC one-time implementation costs have risen to almost 
$35 billion in fiscal year 2010 compared with DOD's initial estimate 
of $21 billion in 2005. Similarly, net annual recurring savings have 
dropped to $3.9 billion in fiscal year 2010 compared with the $4.2 
billion DOD estimated in 2005.[Footnote 20] 

Establish a common analytical framework. To ensure that the selection 
criteria were consistently applied, the Office of the Secretary of 
Defense required the military services and the seven joint cross- 
service groups to first perform a capacity analysis of facilities and 
functions at specific locations prior to developing recommendations. 
The capacity analysis relied on data calls to hundreds of locations to 
obtain certified data to assess such factors as maximum potential 
capacity, current capacity, current usage, and excess capacity. Then, 
the military services and joint cross-service groups performed a 
military value analysis for the facilities and functions that included 
a facility's or function's current and future mission capabilities, 
physical condition, ability to accommodate future needs, and cost of 

Establish an organizational structure. As previously mentioned, the 
Office of the Secretary of Defense emphasized the need for joint cross-
service groups to analyze common business-oriented functions. For the 
2005 round, as for the 1993 and 1995 rounds, these joint cross-service 
groups performed analyses and developed closure and realignment 
options in addition to those developed by the military departments. In 
contrast, our evaluation of DOD's 1995 round indicated that few cross-
service recommendations were made, in part because of the lack of high-
level leadership to encourage consolidations across the services' 
functions.[Footnote 21] In the 1995 round, the joint cross-service 
groups submitted options through the military departments for 
approval, resulting in few being approved. The number of approved 
recommendations that the joint cross-service groups developed 
significantly increased in the 2005 round. This was due, in part, to 
high-level leadership's ensuring that the options were approved not by 
the military services but rather by a DOD senior-level group. Also, 
one of these joint cross-service groups developed a number of 
recommendations to realign administrative-type functions out of leased 
space into DOD-owned facilities. 

Involve the audit community to better ensure data accuracy. The DOD 
Inspector General and military service audit agencies played key roles 
in identifying data limitations, fostering corrections, and improving 
the accuracy of the data used in the process. The oversight roles of 
the audit organizations, given their access to relevant information 
and officials as the process evolved, helped to improve the accuracy 
of the data used in the BRAC process and added an important aspect to 
the quality and integrity of the data used to develop closure and 
realignment recommendations. 

There are a number of important similarities and differences between 
BRAC and a civilian process as proposed in CPRA. As a similarity, both 
BRAC and CPRA employ the all-or-nothing approach to disposals and 
consolidations, meaning that once the final list is approved, it must 
be approved or rejected as a whole. This approach can help overcome 
stakeholders' interests. Another similarity may be the need for a 
phased approach. Through the five prior BRAC rounds, DOD has reduced 
its domestic infrastructure, transferred hundreds of thousands of 
acres of unneeded property to other federal and nonfederal entities, 
and saved funds for application to higher priority defense needs. 
Similarly, it may take several BRAC-like rounds to complete the 
disposals and consolidations of civilian real property owned and 
leased by many disparate agencies including GSA, VA, Interior, and the 
Department of Energy. On the other hand, an important difference in 
the two processes may be the role of the independent board. DOD has 
participated in the BRAC process by generating lists of bases to close 
and realign that the last four BRAC Commissions have then reviewed. On 
the civilian side, however, agencies would provide recommendations to 
the proposed civilian board, but the board would ultimately be 
responsible for developing the lists of disposals and consolidations. 

In closing, the government has made strides toward strategically 
managing its real property and improving its real property planning 
and data over the last 10 years, but those efforts have not yet led to 
sufficient reductions in excess property and overreliance on leasing. 
DOD's experiences with BRAC, including establishing criteria and a 
common analytical framework up front, could help this effort move 

Chairman Denham, Ranking Member Norton, and Members of the 
Subcommittee, this concludes our prepared statement. We will be 
pleased to answer any questions that you may have at this time. 

For further information on this testimony, please contact David Wise 
at (202) 512-2834 or regarding federal real property, or 
Brian Lepore at (202) 512-4523 or regarding the Base 
Realignment and Closure process. Contact points for our Congressional 
Relations and Public Affairs offices may be found on the last page of 
this statement. In addition to the contacts named above, Keith 
Cunningham, Assistant Director; Laura Talbott, Assistant Director; 
Vijay Barnabas; Hilary Benedict; Jessica Bryant-Bertail; Elizabeth 
Eisenstadt, Sarah Farkas; Susan Michal-Smith; and Michael Willems made 
important contributions to this statement. 

[End of section] 


[1] In this testimony, we refer to property that is owned by the 
federal government and under the control and custody of GSA as GSA- 
owned property. 

[2] GAO, Federal Real Property: Strategy Needed to Address Agencies' 
Long-standing Reliance on Leasing, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 24, 

[3] GAO, High-Risk Series: Federal Real Property, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: January 
2003) and High-Risk Series: An Update, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: February 

[4] [hyperlink,]. 

[5] The first round in 1988 was authorized by the Defense 
Authorization Amendments and Base Closure and Realignment Act, Pub. L. 
No. 100-526, Title II (1988) (as amended). Subsequently, additional 
BRAC rounds were completed in 1991, 1993, and 1995 as authorized by 
the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1990, Pub. L. No. 101-
510, Title XXIX (1990) (as amended). The latest round--BRAC 2005--was 
authorized by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 
2002, Pub. L. No. 107-107, Title XXX (2001). 

[6] DOD defines a major closure as a closure where plant replacement 
values exceed $100 million and a major realignment as an action with a 
net loss of 400 or more military and civilian personnel. 

[7] GAO, Military Bases: Analysis of DOD's 2005 Selection Process and 
Recommendations for Base Closures and Realignments, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: July 1, 
2005) and Military Bases: Observations on the 2005 Base Realignment 
and Closure Selection Process and Recommendations, [hyperlink,] (Washington, DC: July 18, 

[8] See, for example, GAO, Military Base Realignments and Closures: 
DOD Is Taking Steps to Mitigate Challenges, but Is Not Fully Reporting 
Some Additional Costs, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: July 21, 
2010) and Military Base Realignments and Closures: Estimated Costs 
Have Increased While Savings Estimates Have Decreased Since Fiscal 
Year 2009, [hyperlink,] 
(Washington, D.C.: Nov. 13, 2009). 

[9] [hyperlink,]. 

[10] GAO, Federal Real Property: Progress Made Toward Addressing 
Problems, but Underlying Obstacles Continue to Hamper Reform, 
[hyperlink, (Washington, D.C.: 
Apr. 13, 2007). 

[11] [hyperlink,]. 

[12] [hyperlink,]. 

[13] [hyperlink,]. 

[14] GAO, Military Bases: Lessons Learned From Prior Base Closure 
Rounds, [hyperlink,] 
(Washington, D.C.: July 25, 1997). 

[15] The BRAC Commission was composed of nine Commissioners appointed 
by the President, six of whom were appointed in consultation with the 
congressional leadership. 

[16] Congress had 45 days (excluding certain adjournments) or until 
the adjournment of Congress, whichever came first, to enact a joint 
resolution disapproving the recommendations as a whole. 

[17] Section 2832 of the Ronald W. Reagan National Defense 
Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005 (Pub. L. No. 108-375 (2004). 

[18] Section 3001 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal 
Year 2002 (Pub. L. No. 107-107 (2001)), amended the Defense Base 
Closure and Realignment Act of 1990 (Pub. L. No. 101-510 (1990)) to, 
among other things, require DOD to develop a 20-year force structure 
plan as the basis for its 2005 BRAC analysis to include the probable 
end strength levels and major military force units needed to meet the 
probable threats identified by the Secretary and a comprehensive 
inventory of military installations worldwide. 

[19] [hyperlink,]. 

[20] As we have previously reported, we and the BRAC Commission 
believe that DOD's net annual recurring savings estimates are 
overstated because they include savings from eliminating military 
personnel positions without corresponding decreases in personnel end-
strength. DOD disagrees with our position. 

[21] [hyperlink,]. 

[End of section] 

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