GAO Assesses Base Closure Recommendations

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a mandated report assessing the Department of Defense's proposed base closure and realignment actions and the process used in making those recommendations.

On May 13, 2005, the Secretary of Defense submitted a list of 222 recommendations, involving 837 closure and realignment actions, to the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission. In accordance with law, GAO by July 1 is required to provide the congressional defense committees with a detailed analysis of the secretary's recommendations. GAO's report will also be made available to the independent Base Closure and Realignment Commission for use in completing its own legislatively required review of the secretary's recommendations and drawing up a final list of recommended closure and realignment actions, to be submitted to the president by September 8. The president, in turn, must either approve or disapprove the commission's recommendations in their entirety. Congress has final action to accept or reject these recommendations in their entirety later this year.

DOD's process for conducting its analysis was generally logical, reasoned, and well documented, GAO found. DOD had varying success in achieving its 2005 BRAC goals of (1) reducing excess in infrastructure and producing savings, (2) furthering transformation, and (3) fostering jointness, GAO reported.

"While we believe DOD's overall recommendations, if approved and implemented, would produce savings, there are clear limitations associated with the projected savings, such as the lack of military end-strength reductions and uncertainties associated with other savings estimates," GAO said, as it recommended that DOD develop mechanisms for tracking and updating savings estimates in implementing individual recommendations.

GAO focused much of its attention on evaluating major cross-cutting issues, identifying various issues that may warrant further attention by the commission.

GAO's report on the 2005 BRAC process, as well as past work on base closures, can be found on GAO's Internet site at