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Military Bases: Mission Transfers Affecting Ellsworth Air Force Base (Letter Report, 02/24/97, GAO/NSIAD-97-58).

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the costs and benefits
of several B-1B aircraft mission transfers affecting the Ellsworth Air
Force Base (AFB) in South Dakota, focusing on the: (1) extent to which
the Air Force analyzed the costs and benefits of the proposed jet engine
intermediate maintenance consolidation at Dyess AFB, Texas; (2) costs
and benefits of transferring the Route Integration Instrumentation
System (RIIS) from Ellsworth to Nellis AFB, Nevada; and (3) reasons for
and cost of constructing facilities for housing B-1B aircraft at Robins
AFB, Georgia.

GAO found that: (1) the Air Force's mid-1995 preliminary analysis showed
that consolidating B-1B engine intermediate maintenance at Dyess AFB
could result in savings; (2) however, this analysis was based primarily
on discussions among maintenance personnel and did not include certain
factors that could reduce the savings because several important
decisions, such as the extent that back-up capabilities would need to be
retained at other bases, were not made until later in calendar year
1995; (3) a cost-benefit analysis, including estimated workload
distribution, and one-time construction, moving, and set-up costs, was
not conducted; (4) such an analysis, using updated data, is needed to
assess whether the consolidation would in fact save money and result in
operating efficiencies; (5) GAO's analysis of Air Force data showed that
transferring the RIIS, a computer-based system for assessing flight crew
training missions, to Nellis AFB from Ellsworth, should result in annual
savings of about $262,000, primarily by reducing staff requirements; (6)
no significant military construction is presently needed or planned for
the transfer, however, some modifications may be necessary to meet
security requirements; (7) if projected savings are accurate and
estimated one-time transfer costs do not increase substantially,
transfer costs will be recovered in less than 3 years; (8) the National
Guard provided several reasons for its decision to relocate a newly
established B-1B unit from Dobbins AFB to Robins AFB; (9) according to
the National Guard, moving the B-1B unit to Robins minimized personnel
dislocations, avoided costly runway repairs, provided diversified
training routes, and permitted collocating the B-1Bs with supporting
tankers; (10) other existing B-1B bases, including Dyess, Ellsworth, and
McConnell, were briefly considered for the B-1B unit; (11) to put B-1B
aircraft at an existing B-1B base, however, would have required
activating an additional National Guard unit, while at the same time
deactivating a unit; (12) the National Guard estimates construction
costs for the B-1B wing at Robins will total about $99.5 million; and
(13) construction started in October 1996 and is scheduled to be
completed in 2001.

--------------------------- Indexing Terms -----------------------------

 REPORTNUM:  NSIAD-97-58
     TITLE:  Military Bases: Mission Transfers Affecting Ellsworth Air 
             Force Base
      DATE:  02/24/97
   SUBJECT:  Bomber aircraft
             Base realignments
             Air Force bases
             Military cost control
             Defense economic analysis
             Aircraft maintenance
             Construction costs
             Cost effectiveness analysis
             Military training
             Facility construction
IDENTIFIER:  B-1B Aircraft
             Air Force Route Integration Instrumentation System
             F-15 Aircraft
             Eagle Aircraft
             Air Force Logistics Composite Model
             
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Cover
================================================================ COVER


Report to Congressional Requesters

February 1997

MILITARY BASES - MISSION TRANSFERS
AFFECTING ELLSWORTH
AIR FORCE BASE

GAO/NSIAD-97-58

Military Bases

(709225)


Abbreviations
=============================================================== ABBREV

  ACC - Air Combat Command
  AFB - Air Force Base
  DOD - Department of Defense
  LCOM - logistics composite model
  RIIS - Route Integration Instrumentation System

Letter
=============================================================== LETTER


B-275750

February 24, 1997

Senator Thomas A.  Daschle
Senator Tim Johnson
United States Senate

As you requested, we examined the costs and benefits of several B-1B
aircraft mission transfers affecting the Ellsworth Air Force Base
(AFB) located in South Dakota.  Specifically, this report addresses
the (1) extent to which the Air Force analyzed the costs and benefits
of the proposed jet engine intermediate maintenance consolidation at
Dyess AFB, Texas; (2) costs and benefits of transferring the Route
Integration Instrumentation System (RIIS) from Ellsworth to Nellis
AFB, Nevada; and (3) reasons for and cost of constructing facilities
for housing B-1B aircraft at the Robins AFB in Georgia.  The B-1B
unit that is moving to Robins AFB was previously located at Dobbins
AFB and was activated in fiscal year 1996 when a F-15 unit was
deactivated at that base.\1


--------------------
\1 The Air Force is realigning, converting, and/or deactivating some
units in response to a declining defense budget and changes in force
structure needs.  Within the Air National Guard, the six fighter wing
allocation required converting or closing one of the four F-15 units. 
Converting units from F-15s to B-1Bs, rather than closure, minimizes
the impact of force reductions, according to the Air Force. 


   RESULTS IN BRIEF
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :1

The Air Force's mid-1995 preliminary analysis showed that
consolidating B-1B engine intermediate maintenance at Dyess AFB could
result in savings.  However, this analysis was based primarily on
discussions among maintenance personnel.  It did not include certain
factors that could reduce the savings because several important
decisions, such as the extent that back-up capabilities would need to
be retained at other bases, were not made until later in calendar
year 1995.  Moreover, a cost/benefit analysis, including estimated
workload distribution, and one-time construction, moving, and set-up
costs, was not conducted.  Such an analysis, using updated data, is
needed to assess whether the consolidation would in fact save money
and result in operating efficiencies. 

Our analysis of Air Force data showed that transferring the RIIS, a
computer-based system for assessing flight crew training missions, to
Nellis AFB from Ellsworth, should result in annual savings of about
$262,000, primarily by reducing staff requirements.  No significant
military construction is presently needed or planned for the
transfer; however, some modifications may be necessary to meet
security requirements.  If projected savings are accurate and
estimated one-time transfer costs do not increase substantially,
transfer costs will be recovered in less than
3 years. 

The National Guard provided several reasons for its decision to
relocate a newly established B-1B unit from Dobbins AFB to Robins
AFB.  According to the National Guard, moving the B-1B unit to Robins
minimized personnel dislocations, avoided costly runway repairs,
provided diversified training routes, and permitted collocating the
B-1Bs with supporting tankers.  Other existing B-1B bases, including
Dyess, Ellsworth, and McConnell, were briefly considered for the B1-B
unit.  To put B-1B aircraft at an existing B-1B base, however, would
have required activating an additional National Guard unit, while at
the same time deactivating a unit.  The National Guard estimates
construction costs for the B-1B wing at Robins will total about $99.5
million.  Construction started in October 1996 and is scheduled to be
completed in 2001. 


   BACKGROUND
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :2

B-1B units, with a total of 93 aircraft, are deployed at 5 bases in
the continental United States.\2 Figure 1 shows the location of units
and the number of aircraft in them as of August 14, 1996. 

   Figure 1:  Number of Aircraft
   Assigned to Each B-1B Unit as
   of August 1996

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

   Source:  Air Combat Command.

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

RIIS is a data collection system used to provide feedback to air
crews on their performance during flight training.  Data collected
from training locations around the country are transmitted to a
central computer and processed into a video format.  This video is
then transmitted to the air crew's home base, where it is used to
brief crew members on the results of their training. 

Because the units at McConnell and Robins are National Guard units,
the National Guard Bureau and the Air Force's Air Combat Command
(ACC) share responsibility for organizing, equipping, maintaining,
and training them. 


--------------------
\2 The report Air Force Bombers:  Options to Retire or Restructure
the Force Would Reduce Planned Spending (GAO/NSIAD-96-192, Sept.  30,
1996) provides more information on DOD's bomber force requirements
and options for reducing spending on bombers. 


   NEED TO CONDUCT COST/BENEFIT
   ANALYSIS OF INTERMEDIATE
   MAINTENANCE CONSOLIDATION USING
   UPDATED DATA
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :3

There are three levels of B-1B engine maintenance:  organizational,
intermediate, and depot.  Organizational and intermediate maintenance
are performed at each base.  Generally, organizational maintenance
includes preventive maintenance and minor repairs that do not require
engine removal.  Intermediate maintenance includes scheduled
maintenance and major repairs that generally cannot be completed
without removing the engine from the aircraft.  Depot maintenance,
which overhauls engines to a like-new condition, is performed by the
Air Logistics Center at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma. 

In mid-1995, ACC led a team that performed preliminary analysis of
the benefits of consolidating B-1B engine intermediate maintenance
activities.  The analysis indicated that consolidation could reduce
the total number of personnel authorized for intermediate maintenance
units by 24:  14 active duty positions and 10 National Guard
positions.  On the basis of fiscal year 1996 personnel
authorizations, intermediate maintenance units would be reduced from
190 to 166 positions.  The ACC maintenance official who conducted the
study stated, however, that the analysis was based on discussions
among engine maintenance personnel and not on a logistics composite
model (LCOM)\3 or formal manpower analysis of the workload to be
performed at each base. 

In late 1995, the Secretary of the Air Force instructed ACC to
consolidate B-1B jet engine intermediate maintenance activities at
Dyess AFB.  However, in implementing the Secretary's decision, the
maintenance official stated that ACC would retain limited
intermediate maintenance capabilities at Ellsworth and Robins AFBs
and a full intermediate maintenance capability at McConnell AFB. 
According to the same official, the limited capabilities at Ellsworth
and Robins are needed to perform intermediate maintenance activities
that can be completed quickly, thereby limiting the amount of time
aircraft will be inoperable while engines are in transit.  Further,
the full capability at McConnell is needed to provide a back-up
facility in the event that operations at the consolidated facility
are impaired. 

The ACC maintenance official stated in September 1996 that ACC had
not prepared a comprehensive cost/benefits analysis to support the
decision to establish a consolidated facility at Dyess.  He stated
that ACC had not yet developed comprehensive estimates of the
one-time costs of consolidation, including the costs of constructing
facilities and moving personnel and equipment to Dyess.  For example,
ACC had not completed its analysis of support equipment requirements
for the consolidated facility.  In addition, a recent LCOM analysis
indicates that savings may be less than indicated by the preliminary
analysis.  According to the ACC maintenance official, the LCOM
analysis indicates that consolidation will reduce total active duty
maintenance personnel requirements by only about five positions.  He
added that ACC had not yet obtained updated information on potential
National Guard staffing reductions at Robins. 

In October 1996, the Air Force indicated that the consolidated
facility at Dyess AFB should be operational in January 1998, pending
completion of a major B-1B engine upgrade.  Completing a more
comprehensive cost and benefits analysis prior to the consolidation
could ensure that savings and operating efficiencies would result
from the consolidation. 


--------------------
\3 The LCOM model used determines manpower requirements for B-1B jet
engine intermediate maintenance units using factors such as
programmed flying hours, historical data on engine failures, and
maintenance tasks performed by the unit.  Additional positions may be
authorized for supervisors and any maintenance that is not included
in the flying-hour program. 


   RIIS TRANSFER WILL LIKELY BE
   COST EFFECTIVE
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :4

Before September 1996, the RIIS unit was located at Ellsworth AFB and
reported to a range support headquarters unit located at Nellis AFB. 
In September 1996, the RIIS unit was relocated from Ellsworth to
Nellis AFB. 

Table 1 shows that direct RIIS operating costs at Nellis are
projected to be about $262,000 less per year, in fiscal year 1997
dollars, than at Ellsworth.  As shown, annual contractor support
costs at Nellis are expected to be over $208,000 more than at
Ellsworth; however, combined military and civilian personnel costs at
Nellis are expected to be almost $470,000 less than at Ellsworth.  We
did not analyze indirect costs, such as family housing and base
support costs.  Air Force officials stated these costs would be
similar at both bases. 



                                Table 1
                
                 Direct RIIS Annual Operating Costs at
                  Ellsworth Compared With Nellis (1997
                                dollars)

                                                Ellswo          Differ
Cost category                                      rth  Nellis    ence
----------------------------------------------  ------  ------  ------
Personnel
Military                                        $1,042  $675,1  $367,7
                                                  ,967      72      95
Civilian                                        152,83  50,945  101,89
                                                     5               0
======================================================================
Subtotal                                        1,195,  726,11  469,68
                                                   802       7       5
Contractors                                     1,590,  1,799,  (208,7
                                                   551     338     87)
Other operation and maintenance                 30,662  30,000     662
======================================================================
Total costs                                     $2,817  $2,555  $261,5
                                                  ,015    ,455      60
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Source:  ACC. 

The lower personnel costs at Nellis are due to a reduction of nine
positions in the RIIS unit's personnel authorization.  The RIIS unit
at Ellsworth was authorized 26 positions (23 military and 3
civilian), while the unit at Nellis is authorized only 17 (16
military and 1 civilian).  ACC and RIIS officials explained that the
consolidation of range support missions at Nellis allowed them to
eliminate several management and support positions. 

ACC and RIIS officials stated that the one-time costs of moving the
RIIS unit from Ellsworth and setting it up at Nellis will be less
than $600,000.  The largest portion of the costs are related to
contractor modifications, training of personnel, and setup of the
RIIS unit to make it operational.  Equipment moving costs, relocation
costs for military personnel, and room renovation costs to make the
RIIS operational make up 25 percent of the costs. 

Nellis was able to keep transfer costs for the RIIS near $600,000 by
housing the equipment in an existing building that did not need
extensive modifications to make it operational and ensure its
security.  No significant military construction is presently needed
or planned for the RIIS operations; however, some building
modifications may be necessary to meet security requirements.  From
our observations of the RIIS unit at Nellis and discussions with RIIS
personnel, this arrangement appeared reasonable. 

If projected savings at Nellis are accurate and estimated one-time
transfer costs do not increase substantially, transfer costs will be
recovered in less than 3 years. 


   MILITARY CONSTRUCTION AT ROBINS
   AFB
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :5

During the Cold War, heavy bombers were used primarily for nuclear
deterrence and were operated solely by the active duty Air Force. 
According to the Air Force, the National Guard's part-time workforce
was incompatible with the bombers' nuclear mission because of a
requirement for continuously monitoring all personnel directly
involved with nuclear weapons.  With the end of the Cold War and
increased emphasis on the bombers' conventional mission, the Air
Force initiated efforts to integrate Guard and reserve units into the
bomber force. 

As part of its total force policy, the Air Force assigned B-1B
aircraft to the National Guard.  Since the National Guard needed to
deactivate an F-15 fighter unit, it decided to convert the F-15 wing
at Dobbins AFB to B-1B aircraft.  In addition, the unit was moved to
Robins AFB because, according to National Guard Bureau officials, the
runway at Dobbins was too short for B-1Bs and there were
environmental issues at Dobbins, such as noise restrictions in the
Atlanta area.  Planning for the move started in 1992. 

In September 1993, a component of the National Guard Bureau issued a
written cost/benefits analysis for relocating the 116th Fighter Wing
from Dobbins to Robins.  The objective of the analysis was to capture
the one-time and recurring costs of the move and to evaluate
alternative construction options at Robins. 

A National Guard official stated that there was no written analysis
assessing the costs and benefits of locating the 116th to another Air
National Guard F-15 base or an existing B-1B base.  He stated that
the other National Guard F-15 units were located at New Orleans,
Hawaii, and St.  Louis, and did not have suitable facilities for
B-1Bs.  Converting the 116th Fighter Wing at Dobbins to B-1Bs and
moving it to Robins minimized personnel dislocations, avoided costly
runway repairs, provided diversified training routes, and permitted
collocating the B-1Bs with supporting tankers, according to the Air
Force. 

The National Guard official stated that Dyess, Ellsworth, and
McConnell AFBs were briefly considered for the B-1B unit, but added
that those bases were located in states that did not have National
Guard F-15 units.  To put B-1Bs at an existing B-1B base would have
required activating an additional National Guard unit, while at the
same time, deactivating a unit.  They added that this would not have
been consistent with the Guard's policy of minimizing force
reductions and that decisions to activate or deactivate National
Guard units are politically sensitive.  In fiscal
year 1996, the 116th Fighter Wing at Dobbins AFB converted from F-15s
to B-1B aircraft and started the move to Robins AFB.  According to
National Guard officials, about 90 percent of the personnel have
moved and are staying in temporary quarters on Robins.  About 95
percent of the vacant full-time positions have been advertised.  The
ground breaking ceremony for construction of new facilities occurred
in October 1996.  The National Guard Bureau estimates that military
construction costs at Robins for the wing will total about $99.5
million as described in table 2.  Construction is scheduled to be
completed in 2001. 



                                Table 2
                
                 Estimated Military Construction Costs
                 for the 116th Fighter Wing at Robbins
                                  AFB

                         (Dollars in millions)

                                                                Estima
                                                                   ted
Description of work                                              costs
--------------------------------------------------------------  ------
Operations, command, training, personnel support, medical,       $21.4
 dining, and civil engineer facilities
Munitions storage and training facilities                         17.1
Composite aircraft maintenance complex, fuel cell, power check    13.9
 pad, sound suppressor to support engine testing, and
 corrosion control hangers with shops
Site work, utilities, primary roads and parking lots, and         12.3
 miscellaneous structures
Consolidated aircraft and hydrant refueling system, aircraft       9.4
 hydrant systems, and fuel storage
Aircraft parking aprons and taxiways                               8.8
Hanger bay and shops                                               8.4
Other                                                              8.2
======================================================================
Total                                                            $99.5
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Source:  ACC. 

Regarding your interest about the capacity of these bases to receive
the aircraft, an ACC official stated that it is uncertain whether
existing facilities at Dyess and McConnell could accommodate the B-1B
aircraft that were assigned to Robins.  He also stated, however, that
over $100 million was invested in the 1980s at Ellsworth and that
Ellsworth might have had adequate facilities for the additional
aircraft with only limited renovation.  However, as stated
previously, these bases did not have National Guard F-15 units. 
Therefore, putting B-1Bs at an existing B-1B base requires activating
an additional National Guard unit, while at the same time,
deactivating a unit. 


   RECOMMENDATION
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :6

We recommend that the Secretary of the Air Force conduct a
comprehensive cost/benefits analysis to ensure that savings and
operating efficiencies will result from the consolidation of jet
engine intermediate maintenance at Dyess. 


   AGENCY COMMENTS AND OUR
   EVALUATION
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :7

A draft of this report was provided to the Department of Defense
(DOD) and agency comments were requested.  DOD and Air Force
officials provided oral comments.  DOD and Air Force officials agreed
with the facts presented in the report.  They did not agree, however,
with the recommendation to the Air Force to conduct a comprehensive
cost/benefits analysis of the consolidation of jet engine
intermediate maintenance at Dyess to ensure that savings and
operating efficiencies will result.  The officials stated that the
Air Force believes it has already done sufficient analysis to support
the consolidation decision.  According to the officials, Dyess is the
logical choice because (1) the majority of the B-1B force structure
is currently located there, (2) the capability is sufficient to
handle the additional workload, and (3) it supports the Air Force
goal of moving toward lean logistics and two (rather than three)
levels of maintenance.  Furthermore, the operation and mission would
not be significantly affected by the consolidation. 

As stated in this report, however, the analysis supporting the
decision did not include certain factors that could impact the
decision.  This analysis was based primarily on discussions among
maintenance personnel and did not include factors, such as the need
to retain back-up capabilities and retain limited intermediate
capabilities at other bases.  Therefore, we continue to believe that
a comprehensive cost/benefit analysis of the consolidation is needed
to assess whether the consolidation will save money and result in
operating efficiencies.  This study should also include the points
raised by the Air Force in commenting on this report. 


   SCOPE AND METHODOLOGY
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :8

We reviewed reports and documents relevant to B-1B mission transfers
affecting Ellsworth AFB.  We also interviewed officials from Air
Force Headquarters, ACC, the National Guard Bureau, and range support
units at Nellis AFB. 

To estimate operating costs for RIIS, we used average 1997 military
and civilian personnel costs, including all basic benefits, provided
by the Air Force.  We obtained personnel authorizations from unit
manning documents and obtained operation and maintenance costs from
financial reports and other records provided by ACC. 

Our review of the RIIS operations at Ellsworth AFB and Nellis AFB
focused on identifying the major operating costs at each location and
the one-time costs to transfer the operations.  We concentrated on
personnel and operation and maintenance costs as the primary
components of operating costs.  We discussed the basis and accuracy
of the data with Air Force officials; however, we did not
independently determine the reliability of the information.  In
addition, we observed RIIS operations at Nellis AFB and discussed the
RIIS construction requirements with RIIS operations and base security
officials. 

We obtained information on the cost of and rationale for locating the
B-1B wing at Robins from the National Guard Bureau.  We also examined
military construction project data sheets and discussed construction
requirements with an ACC official. 

We performed our work between August and November 1996 in accordance
with generally accepted government auditing standards. 


---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :8.1

We are sending copies of this report to the Secretaries of Defense
and the Air Force, interested congressional committees, and other
parties.  Copies will also be made available to others on request. 

If you have any questions concerning this report, please call me at
(202) 512-8412.  Major contributors to this report are listed in
appendix I. 

David R.  Warren, Director
Defense Management Issues


MAJOR CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS REPORT
=========================================================== Appendix I


   NATIONAL SECURITY AND
   INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS DIVISION,
   WASHINGTON, D.C. 
--------------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:1

Charles I.  Patton, Jr., Associate Director
Nomi Taslitt, Assistant Director
John Schaefer, Evaluator-in-Charge
Randolph Jones, Senior Evaluator
Alexandra Martin-Arseneau, Senior Evaluator


*** End of document. ***





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