National Defense:

Opportunities Exist to Improve Future Comprehensive Master Plans for Changing U.S. Defense Infrastructure Overseas

GAO-05-680R: Published: Jun 27, 2005. Publicly Released: Jun 27, 2005.

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The Senate Appropriations Committee has expressed concern about the use of military construction budget authority for projects at overseas bases that may soon be obsolete due to changes being considered by DOD military services as well as the need for a more complete picture of future requirements than is typically available in annual budget requests. Accordingly, the conference report accompanying the fiscal year 2004 military construction appropriation bill directed DOD to prepare detailed comprehensive master plans for changing infrastructure requirements for U.S. military facilities in each of the overseas regional commands. In that regard, DOD was required to provide a baseline report on these plans with yearly updates on the status of those plans and their implementation with annual military construction budget submissions through 2009. Additionally, the fiscal year 2004 Senate military construction appropriation bill report required those plans to identify precise facility requirements, the status of properties being returned to host nations, and the funding requirements as well as the division of funding responsibilities between the United States and cognizant host nations. The Senate report also directed us to monitor the master plans developed and implemented for the overseas regional commands and to provide the congressional defense committees with annual assessment reports through fiscal year 2008. Our reports are to include an assessment of the status of the plans; the associated costs; host nation burden-sharing implications; and other relevant information involving property returns to host nations, including residual value and environmental remediation issues. This is our second report that responds to the reporting requirements contained in the fiscal year 2004 Senate military construction appropriation bill report. In our prior work, we found that the overseas regional commands we visited at that time were awaiting decisions on the integrated global presence and basing strategy, as well as final guidance from the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) before completing their master plans for overseas facilities. OSD provided initial guidance in February 2004 to aid the commands in developing their plans. However, that guidance did not include requirements to address environmental remediation, multiple U.S. funding sources available to support infrastructure changes, or residual property values--information that others and we would need to track the commands' progress in implementing overseas basing changes. Accordingly, we recommended in our July 2004 report that OSD include these requirements in its final guidance to the overseas regional commands. In issuing further guidance in October 2004, OSD included requirements to identify information on environmental remediation in accordance with status-of-forces agreements and on multiple U.S. funding sources available to support infrastructure changes, but not residual property value issues. For this report, we completed a more extensive assessment of that guidance and its use in developing the overseas master plans DOD submitted to Congress on March 2005. This report discusses the extent to which (1) OSD has provided sufficient guidance to overseas regional commands to meet the reporting requirements contained in congressional mandates and as suggested by GAO; and (2) overseas regional commands complied with the reporting requirements and in doing so, provided information in a complete, clear, and consistent manner, and whether improvements in guidance and reporting were needed.

The scope of OSD's guidance issued to date generally exceeded the reporting requirements established by Congress for the comprehensive master plans and included most additional reporting elements previously recommended by us, except for residual value. We believe that where the guidance requires overseas regional commands to provide greater specificity than identified by the congressional mandates, doing so is appropriate and adds value because this provides a more complete picture of future infrastructure requirements and associated funding levels. However, OSD did not include residual value in its guidance to the commands because officials continue to believe that residual value--which is based on the reuse of property being turned over to the host nation, and often diminished by actual or anticipated environmental remediation costs--cannot be readily predicted and therefore should not be assumed in the master plans. We believe that, without fully explaining the challenges commands experience in obtaining residual values for properties being returned to host nations or the implications, if any, for U.S. funding requirements, Congress and other users of the plans do not have a complete understanding of the potential impacts and limitations of residual value on future funding levels. The overseas regional commands generally complied with the reporting requirements defined by OSD, and by extension of Congress, but varied in the extent to which they provided complete, clear, and consistent information in their master plans. This is due, in part, to the limitations in information that could be provided because of three key factors we identified: ongoing negotiations with host nations, continuing evolution of U.S. overseas basing strategy, and differences in interpretation of OSD guidance by commands. Opportunities exist to improve the completeness, clarity, and consistency of the commands' reporting of various items--host nation agreements and funding levels; U.S. funding levels and sources; environmental remediation and restoration issues; population levels; and facility requirements and funding levels for Hawaii, Guam, U.S. territories, and insular areas in the Pacific. Also, the plans do not yet provide a definitive picture of future U.S. funding requirements, particularly for new locations. Specifically, the master plans did not provide information on U.S. funding sources in addition to military construction appropriations that may be used for ongoing and future infrastructure changes. Still, master plans that provided a greater degree of information encompassing the various sources of U.S. funding or, at a minimum, total funding levels by type, would better assist users in monitoring changes in U.S. funding levels due to changing infrastructure requirements. Also, examples of better reporting by individual overseas regional commands on selected data elements provided insights into how collective reporting among all commands could be enhanced to provide more complete, clear, and consistent information. Specifically, the detailed reporting by the European Command (EUCOM) of individual construction projects according to military service, country, and base category at the installation level provided a more complete and consistent basis for tracking progress and annual changes in its master plan. Also, the Central Command (CENTCOM) provided a more concise depiction of the anticipated strategic end state in terms of the expected sites and capabilities to support its objectives as of 2010. Without more complete, clear, and consistent reporting by individual overseas commands in the master plans, Congress and other users lack the best available data on which to track infrastructure requirements and changes from year to year and between commands.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Senate Report 109-286 accompanying the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, Fiscal Year 2007, directed the Secretary of Defense to submit a master plan for Guam by December 29, 2006, to the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress. The report also directed GAO to review the master planning effort for Guam as a part of its annual review of DOD's overseas master plans. In addition, the fiscal year 2007 master plans provided much better descriptions of the challenges DOD faces in implementing the plans than last year's plans. For example, all of the fiscal year 2007 plans addressed the uncertainties associated with host nations, host nation funding, and recent agreements, and generally dealt with environmental concerns and training limitations where they existed.

    Matter: On the basis of DOD's comments on our recommendations, as discussed below, Congress may wish to consider requiring DOD in future comprehensive master plans and updates to (1) briefly explain the status of negotiations and challenges for reported host nation agreements and fully report host nation funding levels, including those for special bilateral agreements; (2) report environmental remediation and restoration initiatives that support planned infrastructure requirements outlined in the master plans; and (3) provide information on facility requirements and funding levels for Hawaii, Guam, U.S. territories, and other insular areas in the Pacific.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On October 5, 2005, in response to GAO's recommendation, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics issued new guidance directing that the fiscal year 2007 plans address the desired strategic end state of overseas basing infrastructure using an "as of" date range of 2011-2015.

    Recommendation: To improve reporting of and make future comprehensive master plans and updates more complete, clear, and consistent to facilitate annual review and oversight by Congress and other users, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to revise OSD's guidance to require that overseas regional commands follow the presentation of the strategic end state of their overseas basing infrastructure using a common date as CENTCOM did in its plan.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On October 5, 2005, in response to GAO's recommendation, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics issued new guidance directing that the data tables in the fiscal year 2007 plans list military construction projects proposed for the fiscal year 2007 Military Construction Bill, along with the costs associated with each project.

    Recommendation: To improve reporting of and make future comprehensive master plans and updates more complete, clear, and consistent to facilitate annual review and oversight by Congress and other users, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to revise OSD's guidance to require that overseas regional commands follow the presentation of individual construction projects as EUCOM did in its plan.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Senate Report 109-286 accompanying the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, Fiscal Year 2007, directed the Secretary of Defense to submit a master plan for Guam by December 29, 2006, to the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress. The report also directs GAO to review the master planning effort for Guam as a part of its annual review of DOD's overseas master plans. In addition, PACOM's master plan for fiscal year 2008 discussed the progress of dynamic realignment initiatives that will relocate military personnel and facilities in Okinawa, Japan, to Guam. PACOM's plan also linked force structure plans for the Asia-Pacific region to the military buildup on Guam. It described the importance of relocating 8,000 marines and their dependents from Okinawa to Guam, returning additional land to Japan, and retaining a forward Marine Corps command and control capability to ensure a balanced, flexible contingency response capacity within the Asia-Pacific region.

    Recommendation: To improve reporting of and make future comprehensive master plans and updates more complete, clear, and consistent to facilitate annual review and oversight by Congress and other users, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to revise OSD's guidance to require that the Pacific Command (PACOM) provide information on facility requirements and funding levels for Hawaii, Guam, U.S. territories, and other insular areas in the Pacific.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On October 5, 2005, in response to GAO's recommendation, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics issued new guidance to the Secretaries of the Military Departments and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for updating overseas master plans for fiscal year 2007. Within this guidance, the Under Secretary directed that that the 2007 plans briefly explain any significant variances in population levels and usage of terminology related to the three base categories.

    Recommendation: To improve reporting of and make future comprehensive master plans and updates more complete, clear, and consistent to facilitate annual review and oversight by Congress and other users, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to revise OSD's guidance to require that overseas regional commands briefly explain any significant variances in population levels and usage of terminology related to the three base categories--main operating bases, forward operating sites, and cooperative security locations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In 2006, the U.S. commands in Europe and the Pacific addressed the extent of their environmental issues in their infrastructure master plans. While Central Command's master plan did not mention any environmental issues, a senior command official said there were no environmental issues to report.

    Recommendation: To improve reporting of and make future comprehensive master plans and updates more complete, clear, and consistent to facilitate annual review and oversight by Congress and other users, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to revise OSD's guidance to require that overseas regional commands report environmental remediation and restoration initiatives that support planned infrastructure requirements outlined in the master plans.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On October 5, 2005, in response to GAO's recommendation, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics issued new guidance directing that the fiscal year 2007 plans include (1) precise facility requirements and costs for fiscal year 2007 and (2) facility requirements and total funding for fiscal years 2008-2011. The new guidance also specifies that the commands include a single, rolled-up figure for sustainment funding in the narrative discussion provided in the overseas master plans for fiscal year 2007.

    Recommendation: To improve reporting of and make future comprehensive master plans and updates more complete, clear, and consistent to facilitate annual review and oversight by Congress and other users, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to revise OSD's guidance to require that overseas regional commands report information on U.S. funding sources in addition to military construction appropriations that may be used to finance current and future infrastructure requirements or, at a minimum, the totals for these other U.S. funding sources.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On October 5, 2005, in response to GAO's recommendation, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics issued new guidance directing that the fiscal year 2007 plans include anticipated host-nation funding levels at the project level for fiscal year 2007 and at the aggregate level for fiscal years 2008-2011. The new guidance also specified that the commands identify fiscal year 2007 construction projects expected to be funded by the Japan Facilities Improvement Program and the NATO Security Investment Program.

    Recommendation: To improve reporting of and make future comprehensive master plans and updates more complete, clear, and consistent to facilitate annual review and oversight by Congress and other users, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to revise OSD's guidance to require that overseas regional commands (1) briefly explain the status of negotiations and challenges for reported host nation agreements and (2) fully report host nation funding levels, including those for special bilateral agreements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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