Defense gives up on another BRAC round, for now

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Haraz N. Ghanbari/AP

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Monday there will be no new base realignment and closures in 2013, despite his push for them earlier in the year, according to Federal News Radio.

Speaking at the annual conference for the Association of Defense Communities in Carmel, Calif., Panetta said he still supports a new round of BRAC, but understands the political realities that make it difficult for lawmakers to back the Obama administration’s January request.

"It's no surprise,” he said of Congress’ inaction. “I didn't put any money on it. I was asked by some of my budgeteers whether we should put a dollar sign in the budget for BRAC, and I told them not to waste their time. We had to put it forward, have to make the argument. But I understand why it's so tough [for Congress]. But it's an important debate we have to have, and frankly, it's not going away."

The Defense Department included two rounds of BRAC in its 2013 budget proposal as part of an ongoing effort to slash its annual spending, but Congress -- always reluctant to fight over which members’ districts will be subject to the closures -- did not authorize any closures or realignments.

Panetta said he will continue to push for BRAC approval in upcoming years, claiming a slimmed down military has to be accompanied by a streamlined infrastructure.

“The reality is that the department is going to need to take a hard look at what we do in terms of supportive infrastructure,” he said. “If I'm taking the force structure down and still maintaining large infrastructure costs, then the money that ought to be going to training our soldiers is going to extra infrastructure. It's the very definition of hollowing-out the force."

Panetta promoted the role of the Office of Economic Adjustment to assist in areas where base closures depress local economies.

“I can assure you,” he told the Defense Communities audience, “that OEA will be there to do everything possible to assist and deal with the impact of what we will have because of a smaller defense budget.”

The office also helps with base expansion, and Panetta announced it will provide $40 million to a Bethesda, Md., project, as the Walter Reed Military Medical Center’s new suburban Washington location strives to become more commuter friendly. The grant will go toward a pedestrian underpass, connecting the Medical Center Metro stop to the hospital itself.

“This money will help ensure wounded warriors and their families are able to access the new facility, reduce congestion and increase safety around the base, and lessen the impact on the surrounding community,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said in a statement.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.