This is the accessible text file for GAO report number GAO-11-704T 
entitled 'Federal Real Property: Proposed Civilian Board Could Address 
Disposal of Unneeded Facilities' which was released on June 9, 2011.

This text file was formatted by the U.S. Government Accountability 
Office (GAO) to be accessible to users with visual impairments, as 
part of a longer term project to improve GAO products' accessibility. 
Every attempt has been made to maintain the structural and data 
integrity of the original printed product. Accessibility features, 
such as text descriptions of tables, consecutively numbered footnotes 
placed at the end of the file, and the text of agency comment letters, 
are provided but may not exactly duplicate the presentation or format 
of the printed version. The portable document format (PDF) file is an 
exact electronic replica of the printed version. We welcome your 
feedback. Please E-mail your comments regarding the contents or 
accessibility features of this document to

This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright 
protection in the United States. It may be reproduced and distributed 
in its entirety without further permission from GAO. Because this work 
may contain copyrighted images or other material, permission from the 
copyright holder may be necessary if you wish to reproduce this 
material separately.

United States Government Accountability Office: 


Before the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government 
Information, Federal Services, and International Security, Committee 
on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate:

For Release on Delivery: 
Expected at 2:00 p.m. EDT:
Thursday, June 9, 2011:

Federal Real Property:

Proposed Civilian Board Could Address Disposal of Unneeded Facilities:

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

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


Chairman Carper, Ranking Member Brown, and Members of the Subcommittee:

Thank you for the opportunity to testify today on our work related to 
excess and underutilized federal real property held by civilian 
federal agencies, as well as our work on the military Base Realignment 
and Closure (BRAC) process. 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, the General Services Administration (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 have designated the management of federal 
real property as a high-risk area.[Footnote 3] On May 4, 2011, the 
administration proposed legislation, referred to as the Civilian 
Property Realignment Act (CPRA).[Footnote 4] CPRA legislation has also 
been introduced in the House of Representatives.[Footnote 5] 
Differences exist between the House bill and the administration's 
proposal. Throughout this statement, any reference to CPRA is the 
administration's proposed legislation.

At the request of this subcommittee, we have recently begun two new 
engagements related to federal real property management. The first 
will examine how federal agencies designate excess federal real 
property and what actions they are taking to better use remaining 
property. The second will examine the leasing costs incurred by the 
federal government.

Like GSA, 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 to 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 6] As you know, DOD has been working 
through the BRAC process as one way to reduce the amount of unneeded 
property that it owns and leases. This process, which is designed to 
address the obstacles to matching needed infrastructure to the needed 
workforce and missions, may also be applicable to civilian real 
property management.

This statement discusses (1) progress the government has made toward 
addressing obstacles to federal real property management; (2) some of 
the challenges that remain for effective federal real property 
management and how the administration's proposed CPRA could be 
responsive to those challenges; and (3) key elements of the BRAC 
process that could be applied to expedite the disposal of unneeded 
civilian properties.

To address these objectives, we reviewed our previous work, reports by 
the interagency Federal Real Property Council (FRPC), and CPRA. We 
also visited an office and warehouse complex currently in the disposal 
process that included multiple types of real property at one address. 
This complex was judgmentally selected on the basis of its 
characteristics and its geographic proximity to our field office in 
Dallas, Texas. In addition, we reviewed the BRAC legislation and our 
reports on DOD's BRAC process and are currently monitoring BRAC 2005 
implementation. We shared the relevant information in this statement 
with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), GSA, and DOD 
officials. OMB and GSA did not provide comment. DOD provided technical 
comments which we incorporated as appropriate. We performed this work 
from May 2011 to June 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 


The federal real property portfolio is vast and diverse, totaling more 
than 900,000 buildings and structures--including office buildings, 
warehouses, laboratories, hospitals, and family housing--and worth 
hundreds of billions of dollars. The six largest federal real property 
holding agencies--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. 
Overall, 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.

The federal real property portfolio includes many properties the 
federal government no longer needs. In May 2011, the White House 
posted an interactive map of excess federal properties on its Web 
site,[Footnote 7] noting that the map illustrates a sampling of over 
7,000 buildings and structures currently designated as excess. These 
properties range from sheds to underutilized office buildings and 
empty warehouses. We visited an office and warehouse complex in Fort 
Worth, Texas that was listed on the Web site. Ten of the properties 
listed on the Web site as part of the Fort Worth complex were parceled 
together and auctioned in May 2011, but the sale is not yet final. The 
structures ranged from large warehouses to a concrete slab. (See fig. 
1.) Work we are currently doing for this subcommittee on how federal 
agencies designate excess federal real property will include visits to 
other properties from around the country that are considered excess.

Figure 1: Several Structures Auctioned by GSA in May 2011 in Fort 
Worth, Texas:

[Refer to PDF for image: 4 photographs] 

One of four large warehouses: 
Office building: 
Empty guard house structures: 
Concrete slab: 

Source: GAO. 

[End of figure]

After we first designated federal real property as a high-risk area in 
2003, the President issued 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 8] 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, and 
transferred hundreds of thousands of acres of unneeded property to 
other federal and nonfederal entities. DOD data show that the 
department had generated an estimated $28.9 billion in net savings or 
cost avoidances from the prior four BRAC rounds through fiscal year 
2003 and expects to save about $7 billion each year thereafter, which 
could be applied to other higher priority defense needs. These savings 
reflect money that DOD has estimated it would likely have spent to 
operate military bases had they remained open. However, we found that 
DOD's savings estimates are imprecise because the military services 
have not updated them regularly despite our prior reported concerns on 
this issue.[Footnote 9] 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 10] 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 the results of our analysis in a 2005 report and 
testified before the BRAC Commission soon thereafter.[Footnote 11] 
Since that time, we have 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 12]

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

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. 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. 
[Footnote 13] Not having a strategic focus can lead to ineffective 
decision making. 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 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. According to several member agencies, FRPC no 
longer meets regularly but remains a forum for agency coordination on 
real property issues and could serve a larger role in future real 
property management.

We also earlier reported that a lack of reliable real property data 
compounded real property management problems.[Footnote 14] 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 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 

In our February 2011 high-risk update, we reported that the federal 
government has taken numerous steps since 2003 to improve the 
completeness and reliability of its real property data.[Footnote 15] 
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.[Footnote 16] 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 17] 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 previous basic 
problems, such as missing data or inexplicably large changes between 
years.[Footnote 18] 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 our high-risk list this year.

CPRA Could Help Agencies Address Underlying Challenges to Disposing of 
Unneeded Property:

The government now has a more strategic focus on real property issues 
and more reliable real property data, but problems related to unneeded 
property and leasing persist because the government has not addressed 
underlying legal and financial limitations and stakeholder influences. 
In our February 2011 high-risk update, we noted that the legal 
requirements agencies must adhere to before disposing of a property, 
such as requirements for screening and environmental cleanup, present 
a challenge to consolidating federal properties.[Footnote 19] 
Currently, before GSA can dispose of a property that a federal agency 
no longer needs, it must offer the property to other federal agencies. 
If other federal agencies do not need 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.[Footnote 20] 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. 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.[Footnote 21] The 
average age of properties in GSA's portfolio is 46 years, and since 
properties more than 50 years old are eligible for historic 
designation, this issue will soon become critically important to GSA.

The costs of disposing of federal property further hamper some 
agencies' efforts to address their excess and underutilized real 
property problems. For example, federal agencies are required by law 
to assess and pay for any environmental cleanup that may be needed 
before disposing of a property[Footnote 22]--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. The 
associated costs of complying with these legal requirements create 
disincentives to dispose of excess property.

Moreover, local stakeholders--including local governments, business 
interests, private real estate interests, private-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 23] 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.

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. The 
administration's recently proposed legislative framework, CPRA, is 
somewhat responsive to our recommendation in that it addresses legal 
and financial limitations, as well as stakeholder influences in real 
property decision making.

* With the goal of streamlining the disposal process, CPRA provides 
for an independent board to determine which properties it considers 
would be the most appropriate for public benefit uses.[Footnote 24] 
This streamlined process could reduce both the time it takes for the 
government to dispose of property and the amount the government pays 
to maintain property.

* To provide financial assistance to the agencies, CPRA establishes an 
Asset Proceeds and Space Management Fund from which funds could be 
transferred to reimburse an agency for necessary costs associated with 
disposing of property.[Footnote 25] Reimbursing agencies for the costs 
they incur would potentially facilitate the disposal process.

* To address stakeholder influences, the independent board established 
under CPRA would, among other things, recommend federal properties for 
disposal or consolidation after receiving recommendations from 
civilian landholding agencies and would independently review the 
agencies' recommendations. Grouping all disposal and consolidation 
decisions into one set of proposals that Congress would consider in 
its entirety could help to limit local stakeholder influences at any 
individual site.

CPRA does not explicitly address the government's overreliance on 
leasing. In 2008, we found that decisions to lease selected federal 
properties were not always driven by cost-effectiveness 
considerations.[Footnote 26] 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 the 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 OMB 
develop a strategy to reduce agencies' reliance on costly leasing 
where ownership would result in long-term savings.[Footnote 27] 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. One of 
CPRA's purposes--to realign civilian real property by consolidating, 
colocating, and reconfiguring space to increase efficiency--could help 
to reduce the government's overreliance on leasing. Our current work 
examines the efficiency of the federal government's real property 
lease management in more detail.

Key Elements of DOD's BRAC Process That Could Expedite the Disposal of 
Unneeded Civilian Properties:

DOD has undergone five BRAC rounds to realign DOD's workload to 
achieve efficiencies and savings in property management, including 
reducing excess properties. The BRAC process, much like CPRA, was 
designed to address obstacles to closures or realignments, thus 
permitting DOD to close or realign installations and its missions to 
better use its facilities and generate savings. Certain key elements 
of DOD's process for closing and realigning its installations may be 
applicable to the realignment of real property governmentwide. Some of 
these key elements include establishing goals, developing criteria for 
evaluating closures and realignments, developing a structural plan for 
applying selection criteria, estimating the costs and savings 
anticipated from implementing recommendations, establishing a 
structured process for obtaining and analyzing data, and involving the 
audit community.

DOD's 2005 BRAC Process:

DOD's BRAC process was designed to address certain challenges to base 
closures or realignments, including stakeholder interests, thereby 
permitting the department to realign its missions to better use its 
facilities, generate savings, and sometimes also resulting in the 
disposal of property. The most recent defense base closure and 
realignment round followed a historical analytical framework, carrying 
many elements of the process forward or building upon lessons learned 
from the department's four previous rounds. DOD used a logical, 
reasoned, and well-documented process.[Footnote 28] In addition, we 
have identified lessons learned from DOD's 1988, 1991, 1993, and 1995 
rounds,[Footnote 29] and we have begun an effort to assess lessons 
learned from the 2005 BRAC round.

DOD's 2005 BRAC process consisted of activities that followed a series 
of statutorily prescribed steps,[Footnote 30] including:

* Congress established clear time frames for implementation;

* DOD developed options for closure or realignment recommendations;

* BRAC Commission independently reviewed DOD's proposed recommendations;

* President reviewed and approved the BRAC recommendations; and:

* Congress did not disapprove of the recommendations and thus they 
became binding.

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

In developing its recommendations for the BRAC Commission, DOD relied 
on certain elements in its process that Congress may wish to consider 
as it evaluates the administration's proposed legislation for 
disposing of or realigning civilian real property, as follows:

Establish goals for the process. 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 in law [Footnote 31] 
and specified that four selection criteria, known as the "military 
value criteria," were to be given priority in developing closure and 
realignment recommendations. The primary military value criteria 
include such considerations as an installation's current and future 
mission capabilities and the impact on operational readiness of the 
total force; the availability and condition of land, facilities, and 
associated airspace at both existing and potentially receiving 
locations; the ability to accommodate a surge in the force and future 
total force requirements at both existing and potentially receiving 
locations; and costs of operations and personnel implications. In 
addition, Congress specified that in developing its recommendations, 
DOD was to apply "other criteria," such as the costs and savings 
associated with a recommendation; the economic impact on existing 
communities near the installations; the ability of the infrastructure 
in existing and potential communities to support forces, missions, and 
personnel; and environmental impact. Further, Congress required that 
the Secretary of Defense develop and submit to Congress a force 
structure plan that described the probable size of major military 
units--for example, divisions, ships, and air wings--needed to address 
probable threats to national security based on the Secretary's 
assessment of those threats for the 20-year period beginning in 2005, 
along with a comprehensive inventory of global military installations. 
[Footnote 32] 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 statutorily-required 20-year force-
structure plan and infrastructure inventory, and on the selection 

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 (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, DOD's 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 criteria and other considerations--in arriving at final 
decisions about the suitability of various closure and realignment 
options. However, according to our assessment of the 2005 BRAC round, 
actual costs and savings were different from estimates.[Footnote 33]

Establish an organizational structure. The Office of the Secretary of 
Defense emphasized the need for joint cross-service groups to analyze 
common business-oriented functions. For the 2005 BRAC 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 services. In contrast, our evaluation 
of DOD's 1995 BRAC 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 34] In the 1995 BRAC round, the joint cross-service groups 
submitted options through the military services for approval, but few 
were approved. The number of approved recommendations that the joint 
cross-service groups developed significantly increased in the 2005 
BRAC round. This was in part, because high-level leadership ensured 
that the options were approved not by the military services but rather 
by a DOD senior-level group.

Establish a common analytical framework. To ensure that the selection 
criteria were consistently applied, the Office of the Secretary of 
Defense, the military services, and the seven joint cross-service 
groups first performed a capacity analysis of facilities and functions 
in which all installations received some basic capacity questions 
according to DOD. Before developing the candidate recommendations, 
DOD's 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 based on 
primary military value criteria, which included a facility's or 
function's current and future mission capabilities, physical 
condition, ability to accommodate future needs, and cost of operations.

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, pointing out needed corrections, and 
improving the accuracy of the data used in the process. In their 
oversight roles, the audit organizations, who had access to relevant 
information and officials as the process evolved, helped to improve 
the accuracy of the data used in the BRAC process and thus 
strengthened the quality and integrity of the data used to develop 
closure and realignment recommendations. For example, the auditors 
worked to ensure certified information was used for BRAC analysis, and 
reviewed other facets of the process, including the various internal 
control plans, the COBRA model, and other modeling and analytical 
tools that were used in the development of recommendations.

There are a number of important similarities between BRAC and a 
civilian process as proposed in the administration's 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 by the independent commission or board, it must be accepted 
or rejected as a whole. Another important similarity is that both the 
BRAC and proposed CPRA processes call for an independent board or 
commission to review recommendations.

A key difference between BRAC and the administration's proposed CPRA 
is that while the BRAC process placed the Secretary of Defense in a 
central role to review and submit candidate recommendations to the 
independent board, CPRA does not provide for any similar central role 
for civilian agencies. The BRAC process required the Secretary of 
Defense to develop and submit recommendations to the BRAC Commission 
for review. In this role, the Office of the Secretary of Defense 
reviewed and revised the various candidate recommendations developed 
by the four military services and the seven separate joint cross 
service groups. In contrast, the administration's proposed CPRA does 
not place any official or organization in such a central role to 
review and submit the recommendations proposed by various federal 
agencies to the independent board for assessment and approval. Another 
key difference between BRAC and CPRA is the time period in which the 
commission will be in existence. CPRA, as proposed by the 
administration, is a continuing commission which will provide 
recommendations twice a year for 12 years, whereas, the BRAC 
Commission convened only for those years in which it was authorized. 
For example, after the most recent 2005 BRAC round, the Commission 
terminated by law in April 2006. However, we believe the need for a 
phased approach involving multiple rounds of civilian property 
realignments is warranted given 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, 
Department of the Interior, Department of Energy, and others.

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 experience with BRAC could help the process move forward to 
dispose of unneeded civilian real property and generate savings for 
the taxpayer.

Chairman Carper, Ranking Member Brown, 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.

GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments:

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 BRAC 
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; Elizabeth 
Eisenstadt; Amy Higgins; Susan Michal-Smith; Crystal Wesco; 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] High-Risk Series: An Update, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: February 

[4] Letter from Jacob J. Lew, Director, Office of Management and 
Budget, to The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, President of the Senate (May 
4, 2011) (available at [hyperlink,] (last visited June 
1, 2011)).

[5] H.R. 1734, 112th Cong. (2011).

[6] [hyperlink,].

[7] See [hyperlink,] (last 
visited June 1, 2011).

[8] 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) (as amended).

[9] In addition, we have also reported that we 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. GAO, Military Bases: Analysis of DOD's 1995 Process and 
Recommendations for Closure and Realignment, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 
14, 1995) and Military Base Realignments and Closures: Estimated Costs 
Have Increased and Estimated Savings Have Decreased, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: Dec. 12, 

[10] DOD defines a major closure as a closure where plant replacement 
values exceed $100 million and major realignments as actions with net 
losses of 400 or more military and civilian personnel.

[11] 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, 2005).

[12] 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).

[13] GAO, High-Risk Series: Federal Real Property, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: January 

[14] [hyperlink,].

[15] [hyperlink,].

[16] 40 U.S.C. § 524. 

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

[18] [hyperlink,].

[19] [hyperlink,].

[20] 42 U.S.C. § 11411; 40 U.S.C. §§ 550, 553.

[21] 16 U.S.C. §§ 470f, 470h-2.

[22] 42 U.S.C. § 9620.

[23] [hyperlink,].

[24] The board would be composed of seven members appointed by the 
President. At least two members must have experience in the private 
sector and at least two members must have experience in the public 

[25] The Asset Management Proceeds and Space Management Fund, 
established by CPRA, is funded with appropriations, gross proceeds 
received from the disposal of civilian real property pursuant to 
recommendations by the Board, as well as certain net proceeds received 
from the disposal of civilian real properties pursuant to 
recommendations by the Board. 

[26] [hyperlink,]. 

[27] [hyperlink,] and 

[28] [hyperlink,]. 

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

[30] See, GAO, Federal Real Property: Progress Made on Planning and 
Data, but Unneeded Owned and Leased Facilities Remain, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 6, 

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

[32] 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 of Defense.

[33] As we reported in November 2009 [hyperlink,], BRAC one-time implementation 
costs rose to almost $35 billion in fiscal year 2010 compared with 
DOD's initial estimate of $21 billion in 2005. Similarly, net annual 
recurring savings dropped to $3.9 billion in fiscal year 2010 compared 
with the $4.2 billion DOD estimated in 2005. 

[34] [hyperlink,].

[End of section] 

GAO's Mission: 

The Government Accountability Office, the audit, evaluation and 
investigative arm of Congress, exists to support Congress in meeting 
its constitutional responsibilities and to help improve the performance 
and accountability of the federal government for the American people. 
GAO examines the use of public funds; evaluates federal programs and 
policies; and provides analyses, recommendations, and other assistance 
to help Congress make informed oversight, policy, and funding 
decisions. GAO's commitment to good government is reflected in its core 
values of accountability, integrity, and reliability. 

Obtaining Copies of GAO Reports and Testimony: 

The fastest and easiest way to obtain copies of GAO documents at no 
cost is through GAO's Web site [hyperlink,]. Each 
weekday, GAO posts newly released reports, testimony, and 
correspondence on its Web site. To have GAO e-mail you a list of newly 
posted products every afternoon, go to [hyperlink,] 
and select "E-mail Updates." 

Order by Phone: 

The price of each GAO publication reflects GAO’s actual cost of
production and distribution and depends on the number of pages in the
publication and whether the publication is printed in color or black and
white. Pricing and ordering information is posted on GAO’s Web site, 

Place orders by calling (202) 512-6000, toll free (866) 801-7077, or
TDD (202) 512-2537. 

Orders may be paid for using American Express, Discover Card,
MasterCard, Visa, check, or money order. Call for additional 

To Report Fraud, Waste, and Abuse in Federal Programs: 


Web site: [hyperlink,]: 
Automated answering system: (800) 424-5454 or (202) 512-7470: 

Congressional Relations: 

Ralph Dawn, Managing Director, 
(202) 512-4400: 
U.S. Government Accountability Office: 
441 G Street NW, Room 7125: 
Washington, D.C. 20548: 

Public Affairs: 

Chuck Young, Managing Director, 
(202) 512-4800: 
U.S. Government Accountability Office: 
441 G Street NW, Room 7149: 
Washington, D.C. 20548: