Military Base Closures:
Overview of Economic Recovery, Property Transfer, and Environmental Cleanup
GAO-01-1054T, Aug 28, 2001
This testimony reviews the progress of the Department of Defense's (DOD) base realignments and closures (BRAC) in 1988, 1991, 1993, and 1995 and the implementation of the BRAC Commissions' recommendations. Although some communities surrounding closed base areas are faring better than others, most are recovering from the initial economic impact of base closures. The short-term impact can be very traumatic for BRAC-affected communities, but the long-term economic recovery of communities depends on several factors, including the strength of the national and regional economies and successful redevelopment of base property. Key economic indicators show that the majority of communities surrounding closed bases are faring well economically in relation to U.S. unemployment rates and show some improvement since the time closures began in 1988. Implementation of BRAC recommendations is essentially completed, but title to only 41 percent of unneeded base property has been transferred. As of August 20, 2001, DOD reported that it has essentially implemented all of the BRAC Commission's 451 recommendations. Although DOD has made progress and established numerous initiatives to expedite cleanup, many cleanup activities remain. Cleaning up environmental contamination on BRAC-affected installations has proven to be costly and challenging for DOD and can delay the transfer of the title of property to other users. DOD expects to continue its environmental efforts well beyond fiscal year 2001, the final year of the base closure implementation authority.