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Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC): Property Transfer and Disposal

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Publication Date: September 2005

Publisher(s): Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service

Series: RL33092

Topic: Military and defense (Military bases and buildings)


The Defense Base Realignment and Closure Act of 1990 and the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 provide the basic framework for the transfer and disposal of military installations closed during the base realignment and closure (BRAC) process. In general, property at BRAC installations is first subjected to screening for use by the Department of Defense and by other federal agencies. If no federal use for the property can be found or if an application for transfer is rejected, the property is deemed "surplus" to the needs of the federal government and made available for disposal through other mechanisms.

At this point, BRAC property is subjected to two simultaneous evaluation processes: the redevelopment planning process performed by a local redevelopment authority comprised of various interested representatives of the community affected by the BRAC action; and a Department of Defense analysis prepared under the aegis of the National Environmental Policy Act and, eventually, informed by the local redevelopment plan.

As a part of this process, screening of the property must be performed to determine if a homeless assistance use would be appropriate. There are also a variety of "public benefit transfers," under which the property may be conveyed for various specified public purposes at reduced cost. It is also possible to dispose of BRAC property through the use of a public auction or negotiated sale, for which fair market value or a proxy for fair market value must generally be obtained. Finally the law governing the BRAC process authorizes economic development conveyances, through which a local redevelopment authority may obtain the property for specified purposes, sometimes for no consideration, and implement its redevelopment plan itself.

A series of legislative and administrative changes have altered the BRAC property transfer process since the last round of closures in 1995. This report provides an overview of the various authorities available under the current law and describes the planning process for the redevelopment of BRAC properties. It also explains the provisions of a recently proposed rule for the administration of BRAC property transfers issued by the Department of Defense. This report will be updated as events warrant.