Army Posts Look to Local Governments for Savings

Utilities

Army installation command officials think they may be on the cusp of finding millions of dollars in savings through a new initiative that allows garrisons to partner with local governments to provide support services for soldiers and families.

“I don’t think it’s designed as a cookie-cutter solution, but it’s designed as a way to get some cost savings, especially in these challenging economic  times,” Installation Management Command Chief of Staff Brig. Gen. Jason Evans told Military.com.

The public-public partnership push, which was made law in the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, allows local Army leaders to seek out agreements with state and local governments to provide services like Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR) support or public utilities. Garrison commanders must then submit a proposal to the Army’s Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management (OACSIM) for approval. If a cost benefits analysis shows that the partnership will save the Army money, officials said they will give it a green light.

Guidance for submitting proposals to OACSIM was sent to garrisons within the last 30 days, officials said. They said they expect to see an influx of applications from garrisons around the country soon.

“There’s a lot of interest from the communities, so we’re hoping for a lot of applications,” said Clara Coulson, director of OACSIM installation. “So far we’ve had three of these pilots that we’ve done through the years and we’ve saved money every time. So the likelihood of continuing to save money is good.”

Prior to the 2013 legislation, three garrisons had been given permission through individual legislation to form partnerships with local governments. For example, Fort Huachuca, Ariz., in 2006 found $2.2 million in savings by allowing the local city government to take over its library system. And the Presidio in Monterey, Calif., uses utilities provided by the City of Monterey at a savings of $1.5 million a year.

Under the law, garrison officials pay for the services provided by local governments with their installation support money. The only service they are not legally permitted to contract out to the city is fire and emergency services, according to the legislation. Installations are also not permitted to develop new services or programs to be contracted out.

Installations can also be paid by the civilian community to provide services, according to the legislation. For example, if a post had the capacity to help with snow removal after a major storm, the city could pay them for that service, Coulson said. Any funds earned by the garrison would then go back into the installation management coffers. 

Coulson said she has already heard from at least three posts -- Fort Riley, Kan.; Fort Bragg, N.C.; and Fort Hood, Texas -- that are interested. She said she expects to get applications from other installations soon as well.

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