Report | June 18, 2021

Audit of Department of Defense Joint Bases (DODIG-2021-094)


Publicly Released: June 23, 2021


The objective of this audit was to determine whether Service Components met the terms outlined in the joint base memorandums of agreement (MOAs) and whether processes are in place to report and address joint base–related concerns.


Military personnel, civilians, and contractors use similar processes to provide common installation support to DoD installations. The DoD used the Base Realignment and Closure process to realign 26 Service installations into 12 joint bases, in part to increase operational readiness and to more efficiently support its forces. Lead Components (Service Components responsible for providing installation support for the entire joint base) at each joint base received resources from the supported Components at the bases. The lead Components assumed responsibility for installation management and for providing support to the entire joint base. We visited three joint bases where the Army, Navy, and Air Force are each designated as a lead Component: Joint Base (JB) Lewis‑McChord, JB Anacostia–Bolling, and JB Elmendorf‑Richardson.


Lead Components at JB Lewis–McChord, JB Anacostia–Bolling, and JB Elmendorf– Richardson did not always meet minimum performance standards or other terms specified in the MOA. In addition, while the DoD had processes to maintain the MOA, and report and address joint base concerns, these processes were not always followed or effective. Joint base personnel often identified Service-based decisions, operational differences, and a DoD‑wide lack of joint base knowledge and operational guidance as reasons why MOA terms were not met and as overall program challenges. Also, joint bases did not always have the resources to meet the performance standards that they were evaluated against. Lack of relevant operating guidance and processes; exclusion of joint base consideration in Service processes and decisions; and non-adherence to MOA terms can break down the joint construct, reducing efficiencies that can be gained from joint basing. These factors can also hamper relations on the installation and potentially marginalize the input, needs, and mission of the supported Components.


In part, we recommend that the:

  • Army and Air Force Vice Chiefs of Staff, in coordination with the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), take appropriate action to resolve the disagreements at JB Lewis–McChord.
  • OSD take steps to improve communication on actions to improve the oversight of and adherence to joint base processes and requirements.
  • Service Vice Chiefs of Staff, in coordination with the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps and the OSD, ensure relationships between joint base and Service policies are clearly defined, and address concerns on joint base operations and potential conflicts in the MOA.

Management Comments and Our Response

The Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment (Installations), performing the duties of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment; the Deputy Chief of Staff for Installations, responding for the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army; the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, Engineering and Force Protection, responding for the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force; and the Commander, Navy Installations Command, responding for the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, either agreed with the recommendations or agreed to take actions that addressed the intent of 8 of the 12 recommendations. Therefore, these recommendations are resolved but will remain open. They also agreed to take action on 4 of the 12 recommendations, but the actions described in their comments do not fully address the intent of the recommendations; therefore, these recommendations are unresolved. We are requesting additional comments and documentation from the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment and the Vice Chiefs of Staff of the Army, Air Force, and Navy to address the actions they will take to fully implement the intent of these four recommendations.

Finally, we added one recommendation to the Joint Base Commander, JB Lewis–McChord, as a result of management comments, requesting that the Commander work with the Joint Management Oversight Structure to determine whether a policy variance is needed to permit the dual-hatting of the deputy commander position. Therefore, we are requesting comments on this new recommendation.

This report is a result of Project No. D2018-D000RH-0167.000.