Defense

March 23, 2012

Pentagon seeks less for construction, more for conservation

The Defense Department is asking for less money for military construction and more for energy conservation in its fiscal 2013 budget request, the deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment told a Senate panel March 21.

Dorothy Robyn said her staff uses joint planning and rigorous analysis to ensure that the right mix of troops is at strategic locations, all while “reducing its footprint” to lessen the department’s environmental impact. She spoke before the Senate Armed Services Committee’s readiness and management support subcommittee.

“My office takes seriously our mission to strengthen DOD’s infrastructure backbone — the installations that serve to train, deploy and support our warfighters,” Robyn said.

The installations and environment fiscal 2013 budget request is $11.2 billion, a decrease of about $3.5 billion from last year’s request. The cut represents tightening budgets, and the services’ decisions to defer facility investments at locations that may have fewer troops due to force structure changes, she said. Under the request, the office would receive:

  • $8.5 billion for military construction, down 29 percent;
  • $476 million for costs from the 2005 base realignment and closure process, down 18 percent;
  • $1.65 billion for family housing, down 3 percent;
  • $151 million for chemical demilitarization, up 100 percent;
  • $150 million for the Energy Conservation Investment Program, up 11 percent; and
  • $254 million for the NATO Security Investment Program, down 7 percent.

The office’s first priority is to support operational missions, Robyn said. The Pentagon is requesting $3.5 billion for operational and training requirements, including building a second explosives handling wharf at Kitsap, Wash.; communications facilities in California and Japan; specialized facilities for special operations forces at various locations; and range and training facilities for ground forces at several Army installations.

The budget request also includes $547 million to replace or renovate 11 Defense Department schools that are in poor or failing condition, mostly overseas. By the end of fiscal 2018, more than 70 percent of DOD schools will have been replaced or undergone substantial renovation.

Also, the budget request includes $1 billion for 21 projects to upgrade military medical facilities. It includes $207 million in the continuing effort to replace the William Beaumont Army Regional Medical Center in Texas and $127 million for the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. It also provides for continued improvement of the medical research facilities that support the chemical-biological mission.

The budget requests $191 million, or about half as much as last year’s request, for family housing construction, but includes $1.5 billion for family housing operations and maintenance, up 11 percent. The military has saved money and has better housing since privatizing its U.S.-based military housing, Robyn said.

“Privatization of family housing … is the single most effective reform my office as carried out,” she said. Before privatization, chronic underinvestment in their facilities had created a crisis for the services, with almost 200,000 of the Defense Department’s family housing units rated as inadequate, she said.

With a $3.6 billion investment, Robyn said, the services generated nearly $30 billion in construction for new and renovated housing.

The budget request includes $1.7 billion for government-owned family housing overseas, which will allow the department to maintain 90 percent of non-Navy housing in good or fair condition, Robyn said. The Navy is expected to reach that goal in fiscal 2017, she said.

The department is seeking $1.1 billion for 28 construction and renovations projects to serve 10,000 unaccompanied personnel, she said.

Robyn said her office is looking at three cost-cutting approaches. One changes the process for leasing space, another promotes innovation and efficiency in the construction industry, and the third is to analyze the effect that investments in energy efficiency have on the long-term costs of owning and operating buildings.

The department has a $4 billion energy bill for its installations that comes almost entirely from commercial power grids. DOD is trying to change that through energy conservation programs and innovations in alternative energy, she said.

“As the owner of 300,000 buildings, it is in DOD’s direct self-interest to help firms overcome the barriers that inhibit innovative technologies from being commercialized and deployed on DOD installations,” Robyn said.

The department has created 70 test projects on innovations in areas such as microgrid and storage technologies, advanced lighting controls, high performance cooling systems, waste heat recovery and on-site generation, she said.




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