Prison Expansion:

Program to Identify DOD Property for Prison Use Could Be Improved

GGD-90-110: Published: Sep 28, 1990. Publicly Released: Nov 5, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO determined whether the Commission on Alternative Utilization of Military Facilities and the Department of Defense (DOD) adequately considered military property for conversion to minimum security prisons as an alternative to new prison construction.

GAO found that: (1) as of September 1990, the Commission had not identified any DOD property for conversion to prison use, but the Commission had not completed its review of properties; (2) because the executive order governing the program did not specify that DOD report bases subject to closure to the Commission, DOD excluded them and failed to report some excess military property to the Commission; (3) the Commission's internal control weaknesses for receipt and review of documents resulted in its failure to review 41 percent of DOD-reported properties; (4) the 2,958 properties that the Commission did review may have had inaccurate and inconsistent property descriptions; (5) the Commission judged most of the reviewed properties as not suitable for prison use; and (6) the Commission's enabling legislation did not address such significant correctional needs as the federal government's need for higher security prisons, and state and local governments' needs for additional prison space.

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

    Matter for Congressional Consideration

    Matter: Congress should consider adopting the provisions of S. 2884, by amending the Commission's enabling legislation to: (1) eliminate the limitation to minimum security prisons, thus encouraging the Commission to consider property for higher security prisons; and (2) make explicit the consideration of state and local government prison needs when military property is reviewed.

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Congress amended enabling legislation in line with the recommendation.

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Commission on Alternative Utilization of Military Facilities should establish controls to ensure that it receives and reviews all property survey forms completed by the services.

    Agency Affected: Commission on Alternative Utilization of Military Facilities

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD instituted procedures to ensure it receives all surveys and distributes them to the reviewing agencies.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should instruct the: (1) services to report to the Commission the excess property that has been reported to the General Services Administration (GSA); and (2) Army to report to the Commission its civilian property.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD has agreed to report to the Commission excess property that has been reported to GSA or is classified civilian. In November 1991, DOD instructed the services to report excess property that had been reported to GSA or is classified civilian.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should require that bases subject to closure be reported to the Commission as soon as a final decision on closure status has been made.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In November 1991, DOD instructed the services to report base closures to the Commission for review for the January 1992 report.

    Recommendation: The Commission on Alternative Utilization of Military Facilities should take steps to improve the property survey form to increase the likelihood of obtaining consistent and meaningful data. Actions to improve the property survey form would include redesigning it to eliminate ambiguous and open-ended questions, tailoring it to identify property for prison use, and pretesting it to identify and correct any other problems.

    Agency Affected: Commission on Alternative Utilization of Military Facilities

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD revised the survey form and instructions to eliminate weaknesses GAO identified.

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