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Army Officials Need to Improve the Management of Relocatable Buildings

DODIG-2017-057

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Feb. 16, 2017 — Objective

We determined whether the Army is properly using relocatable buildings in accordance with Federal and DoD policies at four Army installations.

We performed this audit in response to DoD hotline allegations related to the misuse of relocatable buildings throughout the DoD.  Rather than focusing on the allegations, we decided to perform an audit on whether the Army was properly using relocatable buildings in accordance with Federal and DoD policies.

DoD guidance defines a relocatable building as a structure designed to be readily moved, erected, disassembled, stored, and reused.  Army guidance states that relocatable buildings are for interim use, usually 3 years or less but no more than 6 years.

We nonstatistically sampled 116 relocatable buildings at 4 Army installations to determine whether the buildings were properly approved, procured, and used, and whether there was an adequate strategy to discontinue use and dispose of the buildings.  Of the 116 relocatable buildings, 33 buildings belonged to tenant organizations.  Army officials do not have control over the approval, use, and disposition of these buildings and were unable to provide complete documentation for tenant buildings.

Finding

Army officials obtained approvals to acquire 73 of the 83 relocatable buildings acquired under their authority. However, Army officials:

  • did not always determine whether the structures obtained were relocatable based on the Army’s criteria for relocatable buildings.  This occurred because Army officials at the installations did not conduct the analysis required by Army guidance.
  • did not ensure that relocatable buildings were used only in situations where a relocatable building was required or interim situations.  This occurred because Army officials purchased relocatable buildings to meet changes in the force structure rather than purchasing real property or using minor construction authorities to meet the requirements.
  • continue to use structures purchased as relocatable buildings to meet long-term requirements without documented approval or a valid exit strategy.  This occurred because Army officials did not follow procedures to obtain additional approval to use relocatable buildings once the original approval expired and planned exit strategies were costly and inefficient.

Furthermore, Army officials reported inaccurate data on relocatable buildings to the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Installations and Environment. This occurred because U.S. Army Installation Management Command officials reported data to the Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Installations and Environment that did not consistently incorporate installation updates to the relocatable building data such as building costs, surge status, and acquisition method.

As a result, Army officials continue to use relocatable buildings to meet long-term requirements that could have initially been met using more efficient methods below military construction thresholds, unspecified minor construction, or military construction.  Additionally, Army officials’ use of relocatable buildings to meet requirements may not be the most effective use of appropriated funds.

Recommendations

We recommend that the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Housing, and Partnerships:

  • revise Army regulations to align the Army definition of a relocatable building with the DoD definition, and
  • develop additional policy for circumstances where requirements dictate that relocatable buildings are appropriate instead of modular buildings or minor construction.

We recommend that the Commander, U.S. Army Installation Management Command, coordinate with the Defense Logistics Agency, Disposition Services officials to streamline the demolition process once officials have determined that the opportunities for reuse or sale of relocatable buildings are minimal. We recommend that the Chiefs of Public Works at Fort Stewart, Joint Base Lewis–McChord, Fort Campbell, and Fort Bragg submit extensions for the relocatable buildings on the installation where disposal is not imminent.

Management Comments and Our Response

Comments from the Deputy Commanding General for the U.S. Army Installation Management Command, responding for the Chiefs, Directorate of Public Works at Fort Stewart, Joint Base Lewis–McChord, Fort Campbell, and Fort Bragg, addressed all the specifics of the recommendations to submit extensions for the relocatable buildings on installations where disposal is not imminent.  We will close these recommendations upon completion and verification of the proposed corrective actions.

As a result of management comments, we redirected the recommendations to revise Army regulations and develop additional policy to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Housing, and Partnerships.  We will close these recommendations upon completion and verification that the proposed corrective actions taken by the Deputy Assistant Secretary fully addresses our recommendations.

In addition, we revised the recommendation to the Commander, U.S. Army Installation Management Command, to streamline the demolition process in order to clarify the nature of the actions needed to streamline the demolition process for relocatable buildings.  We will close this recommendation upon completion and verification that the proposed corrective action taken by the Commander fully addresses and meets the intent of our recommendation.