LOSING TIME: Crumbling Infrastructure
|“Every day we live under a continuing resolution is a day we do damage to our military.” - Mac Thornberry, Chairman, House Armed Services Committee
Crumbling and mold-ridden barracks, hangars that are condemned, Air Traffic Control facilities and runways in disrepair, collapsed ceilings and contaminated water. Estimates of the number of facilities that now meet the Pentagon’s definition of “failing” have doubled in recent years. Of equal concern, the deferred facilities maintenance backlog across the DOD has increased from $2 billion in 1978 (GAO, February 1991) to $14.6 billion in 1998 (OSD reported) to over $100 billion today. (GAO-16-662, June 2016) According to a June 2016 GAO report to Congressional Committees, the condition rating for Army and Navy facilities are getting progressively worse, with 2014 data showing that almost half of structures are rated as either “poor” or “failing.”
The Department’s need to fund higher priority programs within an artificially-constrained budgetary top-line has led DOD and the Services to take significant risk by under-funding several critical infrastructure accounts. A lack of infrastructure sustainment and restoration has now resulted in acceleration of facilities failure, and has created a need for significant investment for facility repairs and replacement in the future.
WHAT WE ARE DOING TODAY:
Insufficient and unstable short-term funding means even routine maintenance and facility repair suffers. The Army has warned it will be forced to postpone all non-critical maintenance work orders. Overall, no new military construction projects can begin, which will have an “inevitable delay in project schedules and potential increased costs,” according to Secretary Mattis who warned that includes 37 Navy projects, 16 Air Force projects, and 38 Army projects will be sidelined.
WHAT WE COULD BE DOING:
The House-Passed NDAA includes an increase of $2.3 billion above the President's Budget request for facilities maintenance, including an additional $1.4 billion for facilities restoration and modernization. The increased funding will restore and maintain infrastructure, ranging from barracks to hangars and runways to hospitals. Restoring funding to meet these critical requirements is key to responsibly restoring the military’s immediate and long-term infrastructure needs.