Cannon supporters unfazed by GAO report

By Marlena Hartz

A report recently submitted to the Base Realignment and Closure Commission provides a peek into the 2005 Department of Defense BRAC process. The in-depth analysis, however, left local base supporters generally unfazed.
Ret. Brig. Gen. Hanson Scott said the report, generated by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, reflects information previously presented at the June 24 BRAC regional hearing by himself, New Mexico delegates and civilian base supporters. They argued then that the data used by the Department of Defense to recommend Cannon Air Force Base closure was flawed.
“It’s just another bit of information,” said Scott, who is the director of the office for military base planning and support. “I don’t know if it will be a tool because we’ve already taken issue with many factors they issued in the report.”
The number of bases to be realigned and closed this year exceeds that of all four previous DOD installation rounds combined, and the communities surrounding Cannon Air Force Base stand to be more adversely affected by a recommendation than any other base communities on the 2005 list.
According to the 273-page document, the DOD recommendations “if approved, would have varying degrees of success in achieving the” mainly cost-cutting goals “set forth by the secretary of defense.”
The report indicates that 47 percent of “the projected net annual recurring savings are associated with eliminating jobs currently held by military personnel,” but it goes on to say those eliminations are better described as reassignments.
“Without recognition that these are not dollar savings that can be readily applied elsewhere,” the report states, “this could create a false sense of savings available for other purposes.”
The report concludes that the DOD decision-making process for the 2005 BRAC round was “generally logical, well-documented, and reasoned.” But civilian Randy Harris, member of the Cannon-backing Washington Committee, still regards the report with a sense of vindication.
“This is exactly what we pointed out in our presentation at the hearing. What you are seeing happening is they are basically confirming and verifying what the Clovis team presented to the BRAC Commission,” Harris said.
The June regional hearing held at the Marshall Junior High Auditorium touched upon what Harris dubs DoD false logic — the use of military personnel in the configuration of BRAC cost savings. The bulk of DOD information, said Harris, is based on the elimination of military personnel “that doesn’t exist.”
“It (the report) is going to show that the DOD was flawed in its overall analysis of military value. It (BRAC) was designed to generate savings, and when the bulk of that savings is based on personnel that don’t exist, then the BRAC process is flawed… Now you see that the process is not correct just based on the (military) personnel piece. They (DOD) have completely deviated from what was mandated by law — the purpose… was to cut costs and generate savings and they are not doing that.”
“There is no true cost savings in BRAC at all in regards to personnel,” said Harris.
The Department of Defense, Harris said, estimates Cannon personnel cuts would generate $2.7 billion in net savings. Harris and team took that number, which the GAO indicates can be misleading, out of the equation; the amount saved by shuttering Cannon plunged to $36 million. In the grand scheme of things, Harris said, that amount is minuscule.
Why such disparity between Department of Defense data and locally generated data?
According to Harris, “It’s just a flaw in the data analysis formula that they used. Just because they are the DoD doesn’t mean that everything they do is right.”