Once projected to save over a billion dollars, a Defense Department plan to streamline its management of parts and supplies at a handful of U.S. bases could end up actually costing millions and complicating the military's efforts in wartime, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.
When the Pentagon proposed the plan in 2005, it claimed the effort would save $993 million over six years and millions more in the long term. But GAO investigators found that deadlines for the project have been pushed back, costs are soaring, and initial projections of major savings were unrealistic.
The report said the plan, part of a congressionally-mandated effort to trim the number of U.S. military bases known as Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC, could end up costing $22 million in its first six years.
Public support for BRAC, the report said, could be put at risk if these problems aren't addressed. "Imprecise savings estimates could diminish public trust in the BRAC process by producing an unrealistic sense of the savings that this BRAC round may actually produce," it said.
Tom Schatz, president of the Washington D.C.-based Citizens Against Government Waste, said it was "disappointing" to learn the cost savings to taxpayers had apparently evaporated. "But it doesn't make the process any less worthwhile," he said. In the long run, Schatz predicted, the effort would still bring some savings. The GAO also warned in the report released late last week that without proper oversight, the consolidation of supplies could actually hamper the Pentagon's efforts during a time of war.
"While these transformational actions are intended to provide benefits to DOD over time, their implementation could have an adverse impact on depot maintenance operations during a time of high wartime demands, if not carefully managed," the report said.
In a written response to the GAO's report, the Pentagon said it agreed with the report's recommendations and planned on implementing changes. Contacted by ABC News, a spokesperson at the Pentagon declined to add further comment.