Publicly Released: March 30, 2023
The objective of this audit was to determine whether the Military Services assessed facility resilience and planned for the adaptations needed to address climate change and extreme weather events at installations in the southeastern continental United States bordering the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coast from Texas to Virginia. We focused our audit on the climate resilience assessments performed by the Military Departments.
The DoD defines climate change as variations in average weather conditions that persist over multiple decades or longer—increases and decreases in temperature, shifts in precipitation, and changing risk of certain types of extreme weather events, such as tornados, hurricanes, and drought.
The FY 2020 NDAA required the DoD to include climate resilience elements in a major installation’s Master Plan. DoD Instruction 4165.70 establishes the requirement for all military installations to develop a Master Plan, and the DoD incorporated the required elements into Unified Facilities Criteria (UFC) 2-100-01. The Master Plan outlines the efforts needed to sustain the mission for the intended lifespan of the installation’s infrastructure and assets. Section 2833 of the FY 2022 NDAA tasked each Military Department with completing climate resilience plans for at least two major military installations and providing the plans to Congress.
Military Departments did not consistently develop the climate resilience assessments required by UFC 2-100-01 and the FY 2020 NDAA at the five installations we reviewed. Personnel at the five installations did not use a standardized approach to conduct and document their climate assessment because DoD guidance has not been updated to reflect the changes in the law. Specifically, DoD Instruction 4165.70 d does not contain language requiring all installations to include climate resilience i n t heir M aster Plans. In addition, U FC 2-100-01 does not provide sufficient guidance to standardize assessments. Finally, the Military Departments did not update their guidance to identify the seven required elements from the FY 2020 NDAA or require assessments to use specific climate hazards established in UFC 2-100-01. As a result, the DoD is at an increased risk of not adequately assessing climate change impacts that affect military installations or evaluating how climate change will impact readiness.
Personnel at the three installations we visited had projects to adapt to the impact of climate change. Specifically, personnel at each of the three installations were proactive in identifying projects intended to enhance installation climate resilience before the enactment of the FY 2020 NDAA requirements. However, installation officials stated that they completed projects only because the project was associated with a mission impact, and that they believed it would be difficult to obtain funding for climate projects without an immediate mission impact.
To address the findings in this report, we made eight recommendations. Among other things, we recommended that the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment update guidance to include the requirement to incorporate climate resilience plans in all M aster Plans. We also recommended that the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Construction and the Military Departments update UFC 2-100-01 to standardize the climate assessments and that they update their department policies to reflect those changes.
Management Comments and Our Response
The Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Construction, responding for the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, agreed with the recommendations, but intends to include the standardization of the climate assessments in DoD level guidance rather than in UFC 2-100-01. The Assistant Secretary of the Army (Installations, Energy, and Environment) and the Commander of the Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command agreed with the recommendations to update implementing guidance after the DoD level guidance is completed.
Management Comments Required
The Commander of the Air Force Civil Engineer Center did not receive the draft report and therefore was unable to provide comments. We request that the Commander of the Air Force Civil Engineer Center provide comments on the final report within 30 days.
This report is a result of Project No. D2021-D000RG-0162.000