Services Losing the Battle to Sustain Buildings

first_img Dan Cohen AUTHOR Defense Department facilities continue to deteriorate as the Budget Control Act spending caps have forced officials to limit funding for installation support in recent years in favor of higher priority needs.The department’s latest assessment indicates that 18.9 percent of its facility inventory is in failing condition, with an additional 13.2 percent in poor condition. Last year, only 7 percent of its inventory was in failing condition.Unless the statutory spending caps are lifted in the out-years, “the department will continue to take risk in funding to sustain and recapitalize existing facilities,” according to the written testimony Pete Potochney, acting assistant secretary of defense for energy, installations and environment, submitted to the House Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee last week.“This will ultimately result in DOD facing larger bills in the out-years to restore or replace facilities that deteriorate prematurely,” Potochney wrote.The department’s fiscal 2017 budget request of $7.5 billion for facilities sustainment would meet only 74 percent of model requirements, according to his testimony.“We have over 52,000 buildings in poor or failing condition right now,” Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment, told the panel. “The majority of our facilities budget is focused on combatant commander requirements and new missions, which for us means cyber and unmanned aircraft. What it doesn’t get after is the significant number of buildings out there that are already failing,” Hammack said.The military services prioritized new construction over existing facility sustainment in the FY 2017 budget proposal, but the DOD-wide military construction line item represents a 14 percent cut compared to the previous year’s request, reported Federal News Radio. Much of the requested construction funding would support ongoing military operations overseas. And in the United States, facilities needed to support new aircraft such as the F-35 take precedence over replacing crumbling buildings, according to the story.“The milcon backlog is very significant,” said Miranda Ballentine, assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and energy. “We’re only able to afford about 30 of the 500 top priority projects that our major commands asked us for this year. We really are in a position where it’s not a matter of whether infrastructure is going to fail, it’s a matter of where and when,” Ballentine said.Written testimony and a webcast of the hearing on the installations, environment and energy budget request for fiscal 2017 submitted by DOD and the military services are available on the committee website.last_img read more