BRAC Savings Estimates Were Flawed, Report Says

Cost estimates of base construction were flawed, according to a new report. Cost estimates of base construction were flawed, according to a new report. vician/

The 2005 Base Closure and Realignment Commission may have achieved recurring annual savings, but flawed cost estimates produced a doubling of anticipated expenses, the Government Accountability Office reported on Thursday.

Auditors also recommended improved methodology for predicting new costs in base construction, information technology and personnel during future BRACs.

“By implementing BRAC 2005, DoD closed 24 major bases, realigned 24 major bases, eliminated about 12,000 civilian positions, and achieved estimated net annual recurring savings of $3.8 billion,” GAO said. “However, the department cannot provide documentation to show to what extent it reduced plant replacement value or vacated leased space as it reported in May 2005 that it intended to do. Also, DoD did not establish a target for reducing excess infrastructure, as it did in the 1995 BRAC round.”

In projecting savings from base closings and related infrastructure adjustments, the Pentagon uses a quantitative model known as the Cost of Base Realignment Actions. Overall, GAO said, that tool is reasonable, but in many instances planners underestimated costs--military construction costs 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,” GAO acknowledged, but other costs estimates rose because of initial under-estimates or failure to document all relevant inputs from staffing cuts and required IT improvements. “For example, the initial information technology cost estimate for one recommendation was nearly $31 million,” GAO said, “but implementation costs increased to over $190 million once those requirements were better defined.”

To improve the accuracy of projecting future BRAC savings, auditors recommended that the Office of the Secretary of Defense identify suitable measures of effectiveness in achieving savings and set a target for eliminating excess military infrastructure. GAO also recommended legislative changes to the BRAC statute to give Congress greater visibility of the potential savings.

Defense officials, reviewing a draft of the report, disagreed with five of its 10 recommendations, citing a need to stress military value over simple savings from capacity reductions, and attributing more of the changes in the estimates to requirements added later in the process.

The Obama administration, in its fiscal 2013 defense budget, asked Congress for a new BRAC round, but lawmakers were not receptive. Implementation costs of the 2005 round exceeded the initial 2005 estimate of $21 billion by 67 percent.

(Image via vician/

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:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


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