U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Armed Service Committee, today questioned defense officials on their proposal for another Defense Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC) Commission. Kaine continued to raise skepticism at the actual savings such a process would yield as opposed to focusing on other savings like the reduction of overseas bases.
"If there have been five BRAC rounds adding up to $12 billion in annual savings that's about $2.5 billion per round in a $3.6 trillion budget. And yet there are a lot of additional strains on communities that might have an effect on the local economy. There is a local expense that really doesn't get captured," said Kaine. "So it seems to me that the process is big and complicated and costly and the savings at the end of the day are frankly not that great."
According to a 2012 Government Accountability Office report on the 2005 BRAC round, one-time costs to implement BRAC increased dramatically and original savings estimates declined. Specifically, the GAO analysis of DOD's fiscal year 2011 BRAC budget shows that estimated one-time costs to implement 2005 BRAC recommendations "increased by 67 percent, or about $14.1 billion, from the $21 billion the BRAC Commission estimated in 2005, to a total of $35.1 billion."
In the same report, GAO noted savings have also decreased. The GAO reported, " DOD's fiscal year 2011 BRAC 2005 budget submission to Congress shows that DOD's net annual recurring savings estimates resulting from BRAC 2005 have decreased by $400 million to about $3.8 billion, a 9.5 percent decrease from the Commission's estimate of $4.2 billion."
Kaine continued to advocate the Department of Defense look at overseas military bases for reductions in installations. "We do need to find savings. And I think we may well need to find savings in installations overseas," said Kaine.
A recent Senate Armed Services Committee report reviewed DoD's $10 billion in annual overseas spending and found that construction projects lack congressional or Pentagon oversight, and contributions from host countries fail to keep up with rapidly rising U.S. costs.