Military Base Closures:

Management Strategy Needed to Mitigate Challenges and Improve Communication to Help Ensure Timely Implementation of Air National Guard Recommendations

GAO-07-641: Published: May 16, 2007. Publicly Released: May 16, 2007.

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The 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) recommendations affected 62 percent of the flying units in the Air National Guard (ANG) with 14 units losing their flying mission, and others converting from one type of aircraft to another, or increasing or decreasing assigned aircraft. To implement the recommendations, ANG must relocate hundreds of aircraft and retrain or recruit about 15,000 personnel by 2011. In this report, GAO addresses the status of efforts to implement the ANG BRAC actions. GAO's objectives were to determine (1) the process to provide replacement missions to units losing flying missions, (2) the progress and challenges in implementing the BRAC actions, and (3) changes to the cost and savings estimates. This report, prepared under the Comptroller General's authority to conduct evaluations on his own initiative, is one in a series of reports related to 2005 BRAC recommendations. GAO conducted its work at the Air Force, ANG headquarters, and in 11 states affected by BRAC 2005

Through a consultative process that involved key stakeholders, the Air Force identified and ANG assigned 30 replacement missions for affected units that supported either the future force structure or the National Guard goal to maximize flying missions. On the basis of consultation with its major commands and the combatant commanders, the Air Force developed a prioritized list of potential mission areas for ANG, but let ANG, with input from state leadership, decide which missions to assign to specific units. ANG assigned affected units 23 missions from the prioritized list. ANG also assigned 7 new flying missions to affected units on the basis of its leadership goal to have at least 1 flying mission per state and to maximize the number of flying missions where possible. ANG is making progress in planning to implement the BRAC recommendations, but lacks a strategy to address implementation challenges. Without such a strategy, several challenges could delay when some units are able to perform their new missions. ANG has developed programming plans for the BRAC-related actions affecting the ANG and a plan to move hundreds of aircraft. However, ANG faces challenges in managing the timing and sequencing of many actions required to implement BRAC, such as developing manning documents that provide the specific skill mixes required, and in ensuring there is sufficient space in Air Force schools to accommodate personnel requiring training. For example, ANG projects that about 3,000 personnel need to be trained for intelligence missions, but the school can currently accommodate only a portion of this requirement. ANG has worked with the Air Force to develop potential solutions, but these have yet to be fully implemented. There may also be delays in obtaining security clearances for personnel due to the lengthy clearance process. Further, bridge missions have not been identified for some units that will face a gap between old and new missions. ANG also faces possible delays in obtaining required funding for new equipment, construction, and training. Finally, some ANG units believe there has been insufficient communication with ANG headquarters about new mission requirements, which impacts their ability to recruit and train personnel. GAO's analysis of current Air Force estimates indicates that there will be annual recurring costs of $53 million rather than estimated $26 million annual recurring savings for the ANG related actions. Further, the Air Force is not using BRAC funds for over $300 million for military construction, training, and equipment to establish replacement missions for units losing their flying mission. However, because these costs are not included in the Air Force BRAC budget submission, Congress does not have full visibility over BRAC-related implementation costs.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: In order to ensure management of BRAC implementation challenges, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Chief, National Guard Bureau, to task the Director, Air National Guard, to develop a mitigation strategy to be shared with key stakeholders that anticipates, identifies, and addresses related implementation challenges. At a minimum, this strategy should include time frames for actions and responsibilities for each challenge, and facilitate the ability of ANG headquarters officials to act to mitigate potential delays in interim milestones.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In May 2007 we recommended the Director, Air National Guard (ANG) develop a mitigation strategy to be shared with key stakeholders that anticipates, identifies, and addresses any BRAC implementation challenges. In response, ANG now has a mitigation strategy that it has shared with key stakeholders. For example, DOD reported that the National Guard Bureau, an organization that oversees the actions of the ANG, now provides key stakeholders with access to detailed BRAC business plans that lay out action timelines and programming plans for each BRAC-affected ANG installation and that the affected stakeholders must collaborate to determine strategies and resources to address BRAC implementation challenges as they arise. Also, the Air Force has assigned ANG BRAC implementation responsibility to a specific program management office to better facilitate overall monitoring and oversight of BRAC implementation. As such, that office uses various lines of communications with Air Force program management officers, functional area managers, BRAC Integrated Programming Team members, as well as numerous ANG State and Wing-level contacts to conduct semiannual program reviews to discuss BRAC implementation changes, funding issues, and implementation schedules. To better ensure BRAC completion by the statutory deadline of September 2011, these officials are also monitoring progress in implementing numerous ANG BRAC actions through daily communications and continuing oversight to identify issues that might require mitigating actions.

    Recommendation: In order to ensure management of BRAC implementation challenges, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Chief, National Guard Bureau, to task the Director, Air National Guard, to expand the Strategic Communication Plan to include how ANG headquarters will provide the affected ANG units with the information needed to implement the BRAC-related actions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In May 2007, we recommended the Director, Air National Guard (ANG) expand its Strategic Communication Plan to include how ANG headquarters will provide the affected ANG units with the information needed to implement the BRAC actions. DOD agreed that it was incumbent upon ANG and all affected ANG units to communicate information needed to effectively implement BRAC. As such, the National Guard Bureau, an oversight organization over ANG, is now providing key stakeholders with access to detailed BRAC implementation action timelines and programming plans, including BRAC contacts at each ANG-affected base. Further, the ANG Strategic Communication Playbook, which was updated in 2009, now focuses leadership attention to various strategic priorities including the implementation of ANG BRAC recommendations. In addition, the ANG Strategic Planning Process now includes both Air Force level and National Guard Bureau level communication with various state-level Adjutants Generals about BRAC implementation. As such, the Air Force Chief of Staff and ANG Director have hosted a meeting for all state-level Adjutants Generals to discuss BRAC actions. As a result of implementing our recommendation, ANG headquarters' ability to identify strategies and determine resources needed to effectively meet BRAC goals has improved.

    Recommendation: In order to provide more complete and transparent ANG BRAC cost information, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to report in the Air Force annual BRAC budget submission the costs and source of funding required to establish replacement missions for ANG units that will lose their flying missions as a result of BRAC 2005.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation. DOD's proposed alternative does not meet the intent of this recommendation.

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