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Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

The Next BRAC: When Hell Freezes Over

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The Pentagon is facing nearly $500 billion in budget cuts over the next decade -- and that's assuming Congress gets its act together at some point and averts even deeper cuts that would automatically go into effect under a budget sequester.

Defense Department officials from Secretary Leon Panetta on down think there isn't much chance of reaching those targets without serious reductions in the department's infrastructure footprint. That's why, as Amanda Palleschi reports in the September issue of Government Executive, Defense remains committed to further rounds of the military base realignment and closure process. In fact, the Pentagon requested two more BRAC rounds in its fiscal 2013 budget proposal.

But Defense executives are realistic about their chances of getting approval for such a move  -- that is to say they recognize they're slim and none. At a Government Executive briefing this week, Defense Chief Financial Officer Robert Hale characterized the response to the BRAC budget proposal among members of Congress as "emphatic distaste." 

Part of the problem, Hale admitted, was that the Pentagon didn't have either projected savings or upfront costs for BRAC in its budget  proposal, leaving members of Congress in the dark about the real financial impact of extending the base-closing process. Not only is the BRAC process typically messy and long, it requires upfront investments to reap any potential savings down the road.

If Pentagon officials decide to go back up to Capitol Hill with another version of a BRAC proposal, Hale said, they'll have to do their cost-benefit homework first.

They also may need to stock up on flame-retardant suits.  

Tom Shoop is vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group, where he oversees both print and online editorial operations. He started as associate editor of Government Executive magazine in 1989; launched the company’s flagship website, GovExec.com, in 1996; and was named editor in chief in 2007.

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