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Foreign Policy In Focus » Article / Letter to the Ed

Base Closures: How to Reap Savings from Base Realignment and Closure This Time

July 9, 2012 · · Originally published in The Washington Post

As we enter a new period of postwar downsizing, a new BRAC can achieve substantial savings that Congress professes to crave.

Walter Pincus drew attention ["On the way to BRAC savings, a legion of cost overruns," Fine Print, July 5th] to one reason Congress failed to approve another round of base closures this year: billions in cost overruns from the last round in 2005. His earlier reporting helps provide some context.

In October 2010, Mr.  Pincus reported the figure of $80.1 billion for overall intelligence spending that year - a record high and more than double what was spent in 2001.

Most of the examples Mr. Pincus cites of 2005 cost overruns for Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) came from the expansion of one or another intelligence facility. The 2005 BRAC round occurred in the thick of the unprecedented growth in intelligence operations of the post Sept. 11 period.

It is clear that much of the possible savings from closing bases was diverted to, and squandered by, this prupose.

As we enter a new period of postwar downsizing, a new BRAC can achieve substantial savings that Congress professes to crave, if it focuses on actually closing unneeded facilities and turning them over to local communities for redevelopment.

A February report by the Congressional Research Service identified early planning and decisive local leadership as keys to success in turning these facilities into economic assets.

--
Miriam Pemberton, Silver Spring

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