BRAC Still Required Despite Budget Deal

"The pressures that led us to request BRAC in the past don't look like they're going to let up in the future."

The recent budget agreement will provide the Pentagon $56 billion in budget relief compared to the discretionary spending caps over the next two years, but it doesn't lessen DOD's need to right-size its infrastructure and free up funds to fix up facilities falling into disrepair, according to the department's top installations official. "We need to become more efficient because of the budget situation of the department," John Conger, DOD's acting assistant secretary for energy, installations and environment, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "Even in the wake of the budget deal ... that's still the case," he said. Budget pressures aren't the only factor fueling the administration's push for a new round of base closures; officials estimate more than 20 percent of military infrastructure is excess to DOD's needs, a share that continues to grow as its force structure declines. "I think the need for it is being felt more acutely," said Conger. "The pressures that led us to request BRAC [Base Closure and Realignment Commission] in the past don't look like they're going to let up in the future." Conger declined to speculate on a timetable for a new BRAC round. At the beginning of the year, the department requested the authority to carry one out in 2017, but overwhelming congressional opposition means the next best chance will be 2019, experts say. But the longer Congress defers holding a new round of base closures, the more pressure will build, Conger said. "If there isn't one, we will be exacerbating a very difficult budget situation," he told the Star-Telegram. The department's facility maintenance backlog exceeds $100 billion. "There are some buildings that are in fine shape but there are plenty that aren't. So what happens if you're at Fort Hood, and you don't have a working air conditioner? You make do," Conger said.
  Original article posted on: www.defensecommunities.org