Defense Infrastructure:

Army Brigade Combat Team Inactivations Informed by Analyses, but Actions Needed to Improve Stationing Process

GAO-14-76: Published: Dec 11, 2013. Publicly Released: Jan 7, 2014.

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What GAO Found

To make decisions regarding the installations at which to inactivate 10 Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs) and reorganize others, the Army conducted quantitative and qualitative analyses and obtained community input. Specifically, in 2012 the Army established a BCT Reorganization Operational Planning Team to assess factors such as strategic considerations, military construction costs, and environmental and socioeconomic impacts, among others, and develop stationing options for decision makers. The Army also considered other factors, or attributes--such as training ranges, geographic distribution, and proximity to embarkation points--in its military value analysis model. In addition, the Army conducted community input sessions at installations with 5,000 or more military and civilian personnel, including the 15 under consideration for inactivation of a BCT. Several Army officials said that the sessions were valuable and could serve as a tool for future stationing decisions. However, the Army's stationing regulation does not include guidance on obtaining community input beyond what may be required in the context of environmental analysis. An Army official said that he is developing proposed guidelines for when such input should be considered, but was uncertain how they will be incorporated into formal guidance. Effective stakeholder involvement includes actively soliciting ongoing stakeholder input and fostering communication between stakeholders and decision makers. Incorporating this type of communication with external stakeholders into its stationing guidance for future decisions could lead to potentially greater buy-in from local communities for Army stationing decisions.

The Army expects to continue using its military value analysis model for major stationing decisions and has taken steps to validate the model, but has not established guidance and consistent formal processes related to its use, including when the model should be used or how it should be reviewed, updated, and approved. Standards for internal control state that control activities, such as established and consistent processes or policies, can help to ensure actions to mitigate risks are carried out. Army officials said that the model has generally been used for large-impact stationing decisions and may not be appropriate for minor decisions. However, the Army's stationing regulation does not discuss the model or provide guidance on the circumstances when the model should be used. Also, the Army has not established consistent processes for reviewing and updating attributes and attribute definitions within the model or for collecting and validating data, nor has it established guidance related to the level of input or approval required for changes to the model or how geographically distant training areas should be treated in the model. For instance, subject matter experts noted that the definitions of a couple of attributes should be updated or reviewed, but GAO found that there is no consistent process in place for addressing such issues. Army officials told GAO that the attributes and weighting of the attributes within the model may also change depending on the type of stationing decision, but there is no guidance on when revisions should be approved by Army leaders. Without consistent formal processes for updating and reviewing the model and data used, and guidance related to the level of approval required for changes to the model, the Army risks potential decline in the rigor and consistency of the model over time.

Why GAO Did This Study

As part of its plan to reduce its active duty force by 80,000 personnel by 2017, the Army will be inactivating 10 BCTs currently stationed in the United States and reorganizing the remaining BCTs. The Army conducted analyses of different stationing options, which included the use of its military value analysis model to compare installations based on their ability to support BCTs. GAO was asked to review the decision making process the Army used for its BCT stationing decision, including its military value analysis model. This report (1) describes the analyses the Army conducted to make its BCT decision and (2) evaluates the extent to which the Army has established guidance and processes related to the use of the military value analysis model as a part of its stationing decisions. GAO reviewed the Army's stationing guidance, current and previous versions of the military value analysis model, documents on the BCT decision, and spoke with cognizant officials.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends the Army develop and implement guidance related to when community input should be obtained for stationing decisions, and related to the use of its military value analysis model, such as when it should be used, the level of approval required for changes to the model, and how certain training areas should be considered, as well as processes for updating and reviewing the model. The Army concurred with GAO’s recommendations and explained how they will be implemented.

For more information, contact Brian J. Lepore at (202) 512-4523 or leporeb@gao.gov

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Open

    Comments: According to an Army official, the Army is developing Department of the Army Pamphlet 5-10 on Stationing, which will provide guidance on the use of listening sessions as part of the Army's stationing process in response to this recommendation. The pamphlet and accompanying guidance are currently in staffing within the Army and will soon be ready for senior leader review and approval. However, as the pamphlet is not yet finalized, this recommendation should remain open.

    Recommendation: To improve the stationing process, and to obtain input from communities and installations affected by significant stationing decisions, the Secretary of the Army should direct the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans to develop and implement guidance related to when community listening sessions or other similar efforts to obtain community input should be conducted and incorporated as part of the Army's process for making future stationing decisions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  2. Status: Open

    Comments: According to an Army official, the Army is developing Department of the Army Pamphlet 5-10 on Stationing, which will provide guidance on the use of the military value analysis model as part of stationing decisions in response to our recommendations. The pamphlet and accompanying guidance are currently in staffing within the Army and will soon be ready for senior leader review and approval. However, as the pamphlet is not yet finalized, this recommendation should remain open.

    Recommendation: To improve the stationing process, to better ensure the Army military value analysis model's analytical rigor and credibility, minimize risk, and further enhance the transparency of the process used to make stationing decisions, and to formalize the model as part of its stationing process, the Secretary of the Army should direct the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans, in coordination with the Center for Army Analysis, to develop and implement guidance that establishes the circumstances under which the model should be used in stationing decisions and update stationing regulations or related documents accordingly.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  3. Status: Open

    Comments: According to an Army official, the Army is developing Department of the Army Pamphlet 5-10 on Stationing, which will provide guidance related to review of the military value analysis model in response to our recommendations. The pamphlet and accompanying guidance are currently in staffing within the Army and will soon be ready for senior leader review and approval. However, as the pamphlet is not yet finalized, this recommendation should remain open.

    Recommendation: To improve the stationing process, to better ensure the Army military value analysis model's analytical rigor and credibility, minimize risk, and further enhance the transparency of the process used to make stationing decisions, and to formalize the model as part of its stationing process, the Secretary of the Army should direct the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans, in coordination with the Center for Army Analysis, to develop and implement guidance that establishes the circumstances under which key elements of the model or changes to the model require input or approval from Army leaders, such as through the use of a general officer steering committee.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  4. Status: Open

    Comments: According to an Army official, the Army is developing Department of the Army Pamphlet 5-10 on Stationing, which will provide guidance related to updates and review of the military value analysis model in response to our recommendations. The pamphlet and accompanying guidance are currently in staffing within the Army and will soon be ready for senior leader review and approval. However, as the pamphlet is not yet finalized, this recommendation should remain open.

    Recommendation: To improve the stationing process, to better ensure the Army military value analysis model's analytical rigor and credibility, minimize risk, and further enhance the transparency of the process used to make stationing decisions, and to formalize the model as part of its stationing process, the Secretary of the Army should direct the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans, in coordination with the Center for Army Analysis, to develop and implement guidance that establishes the circumstances under which non-contiguous training areas should be considered within the model that are specific to the stationing decision under consideration and communicate those policies to subject matter experts.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  5. Status: Open

    Comments: According to an Army official, the Army is developing Department of the Army Pamphlet 5-10 on Stationing, which will provide guidance related to updates and review of the military value analysis model in response to our recommendations. The pamphlet and accompanying guidance are currently in staffing within the Army and will soon be ready for senior leader review and approval. In addition, this official stated that the Army is currently in the process of reviewing and updating the military value analysis model attributes as necessary. However, as the pamphlet establishing guidance is not yet finalized, this recommendation should remain open.

    Recommendation: To improve the stationing process, to better ensure the Army military value analysis model's analytical rigor and credibility, minimize risk, and further enhance the transparency of the process used to make stationing decisions, and to formalize the model as part of its stationing process, the Secretary of the Army should direct the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans, in coordination with the Center for Army Analysis, to establish and implement through guidance consistent formal processes through which attributes and attribute definitions will be deliberately reviewed and updated for use in the model, in coordination with subject matter experts, and data will be collected and validated for these attributes.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

 

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