Opportunities Exist to Improve Future Base Realignment and Closure Rounds

March 7, 2013

What GAO Found and Recommends

The Department of Defense (DOD) developed and used a quantitative model known as the Cost of Base Realignment Actions (COBRA), which GAO has found to be a reasonable estimator for comparing potential costs and savings among candidate alternatives, to estimate the costs and savings associated with Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) 2005 recommendations. However, DOD’s process for providing the BRAC Commission with cost and savings estimates was hindered in many cases by underestimating recommendation specific requirements that were entered into the COBRA model. For example, military construction costs for BRAC 2005 increased from $13.2 billion estimated by the BRAC Commission in 2005 to $24.5 billion after implementation ended in 2011. Most of this 86 percent increase was caused by requirements that were added or identified after implementation began. While GAO recognizes that some military construction requirements were added after DOD submitted its initial cost estimates to the BRAC Commission, GAO found that other cost estimates increased because requirements were initially understated or not identified as inputs into COBRA. DOD also did not fully anticipate information technology requirements for many recommendations. For example, the initial information technology cost estimate for one recommendation was nearly $31 million, but implementation costs increased to over $190 million once those requirements were better defined. Also, DOD was unable to always document the methodology used to estimate savings from reducing military personnel positions. Therefore, to increase the fidelity of the initial cost estimates that DOD submits with its recommendations to the BRAC Commission for a future BRAC round, GAO is recommending that the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) improve the process for identifying and estimating the cost of requirements for military construction and information technology and update the guidance on documenting how it identifies military personnel position-elimination savings.

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