Report | Sept. 24, 2012

DoD Education Activity Needed Better Planning for Military Construction Projects


What We Did

We reviewed the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) requirements process for military construction (MILCON) projects in Europe. Specifically, we determined whether MILCON requirements for DoD Dependents Schools - Europe projects were accurate, reliable, and met DoDEA standards. In FY 2010, DoDEA began a major facilities renovation and construction initiative, valued at $3.7 billion. We reviewed the FY 2012 planned projects in Europe, which included six schools and a programmed budget of $248.5 million.

What We Found

DoDEA officials could not support the accuracy and reliability of the costs of the requirements for the six FY 2012 MILCON projects in Europe. Specifically, DoDEA officials did not consistently use the costs provided by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), as required by DoD guidance. This occurred because DoDEA officials disagreed with the methodology USACE used to develop the unit costs, however, the methodology DoDEA used did not result in the unit costs submitted to Congress; altered USACE supporting facilities costs due to changes in initial assumptions; and failed to use the USACE costs when DoDEA officials received the costs after the DoDEA deadline. As a result, DoDEA officials reduced the USACE project costs on the DD Forms 1391 for the FY 2012 MILCON projects in Europe by $15.3 million. DoDEA was at risk for not having enough funding to complete the projects to DoDEA facility standards.

Further, the Director, DoDEA, changed school requirements, but did not complete a business case analysis or prepare a cost estimate, as required for new initiatives by Secretary of Defense guidance. This occurred because the Director, DoDEA, incorrectly determined that the process to develop the 21stCentury education facilities specifications (EdSpecs) was sufficient to fulfill the business case analysis requirement and incorrectly decided that cost estimates prepared for individual MILCON projects met the Secretary of Defense guidance. As a result, DoDEA officials did not know the full impact on a school building’s size or cost for incorporating 21st Century EdSpecs into the FY 2012 MILCON projects. For example, the design architect for Vicenza High School determined that fully incorporating the 21st Century EdSpecs required 130,000 square feet and would not fit into the congressionally approved square footage of 117,788. However, the design architect provided two options to incorporate 21st Century EdSpecs and remain within 117,788 square feet, but determined that the project, valued at $41.8 million, still needed additional funding of $11.6 to $13.9 million.

What We Recommend

Among other recommendations, we recommend:
  • The Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness require responsible DoDEA officials to use the construction agents’ costs for developing construction requirements, or provide documented and approved rationale and methodology for deviating from policy; and
  • The Director, DoDEA, complete a business case analysis, to include developing cost estimates to build a 21st Century EdSpecs school.

Management Comments and Our Response

The Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness and Force Management, provided comments that were generally responsive. However, some of the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary’s comments were nonresponsive or partially responsive.