Quick Takeaways

  • Since 1988, the Department of Defense has lead five successful rounds of Base Closure and Realignment at military bases throughout the country.
  • The closing of bases has impacts on the communities they are situated in, but the DoD, HUD, and the EPA all work to help ensure the healthy and equitable survivable of those communities.
  • There are real estate opportunities as a result of base closings, including commercial property opportunities for businesses.

“Since 1977, statutory thresholds have effectively constrained the President’s ability to close or realign major military installations in the United States. Congress has instead periodically granted temporary authorities—known as a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC)—that have established independent commissions for the review and approval of basing changes submitted by the Secretary of Defense. These unique and transient authorities last expired on April 16, 2006. There have been five rounds of base closures: 1988, 1991, 1993, 1995, and 2005.

Though Congress has periodically adjusted the BRAC process to account for lessons learned, the modern framework has remained generally consistent with earlier rounds, and includes

  • establishment of an independent commission;
  • reliance on objective and uniform criteria;
  • Government Accountability Office (GAO) review and certification of Department of Defense (DOD) data;
  • deliberations designed to be transparent that include open hearings, solicitation of feedback, installation visits, and data available for public review; and
  • requirement that the final list of closure and realignment recommendations be accepted or rejected in their entirety.”

Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC): Background and Issues for Congress (Congressional Research Service, Apr. 25, 2019)

See References for more information.


NAR Library & Archives has already done the research for you. References (formerly Field Guides) offer links to articles, eBooks, websites, statistics, and more to provide a comprehensive overview of perspectives. EBSCO articles (E) are available only to NAR members and require the member's nar.realtor login.

BRAC (Base ​Realignment and Closure) Updates

Air Force BRAC Program Nears Transfer Milestones (United States Air Force, Aug. 24, 2021)

A ”representation of whole base transfers managed by the Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s BRAC program which oversees cleanup and property transfer for installations closed by BRAC legislation.” The Air Force futher states that “The BRAC program plays a significant role in the Air Force’s modernization plan…We are committed to reducing our footprint and the costs associated with maintaining excess infrastructure, and we’re committed to working with regulators and our BRAC communities to do it as quickly and efficiently as possible while sensitive to community redevelopment plans.”

DoD Base Realignment and Closure Program Year 2022 (Department of Defense, May 18, 2021)

A summary of the budget and budget estimates for the Base Realignment and Closure implantation in fiscal year 2022. Includes background on all BRAC prior to 2022 and a discussion of the DoD’s effort to “continue to cleanup properties to support disposal as quickly as available resources allow and remain committed to protecting both human health and the environment.”

An Opportunity for Change: President Biden’s First Defense Budget Proposal (The Center for American Progress, Mar. 10, 2021)

A discussion of President Biden’s defense budget proposal and the major strategic areas of interest. Includes the section “Waste and Management” where the author explains that the BRAC program could be reconvened to save $20 billion to $30 billion per year and “deal with the 19 percent excess base capacity the Pentago admits it has.”

Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC): Background Issues for Congress (Congressional Research Service, Apr. 25, 2019)

A backgrounder on the history of BRAC, how it has played out since its inception in 1988 and detailed information about the five rounds of base closures. The report goes on to “outline issues frequently cited in the context of new rounds, such as potential savings.”

BRAC Community Impacts and Real Estate Opportunities

Surplus Property and Military Base Conversions for Airport Purposes (Federal Aviation Administration, Aug. 17, 2021)

An explaination of the FAA’s initiative to use military surplus property for airport purposes. “The federal government can transfer surplus real and personal property to eligible airport sponsors for airport purposes. This includes military bases that are closed under the Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC). The property is generally transferred at no cost if it is used for airport purposes. This may include nonaeronautical-use property that generates revenue for airport operations, maintenance, and development.”

US Department of Defense Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation (Department of Defense, 2021)

“When a base is closed or realigned, the Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation assigns a project manager to work with the impacted communities to help them organize and coalesce around a single local redevelopment authority that can speak with one voice on behalf of the community… Once officially recognized by the Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation, the local redevelopment authority solicits input from a broad range of stakeholders, including homeless assistance providers, to prepare and submit a base redevelopment plan and a homeless assistance application to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development… If the base has been a significant employer in the region, the local redevelopment authority will concurrently develop a community adjustment strategy for displaced workers and businesses.”

Former Military Bases Find New Purpose Through E-Commerce (The New York Times, Jun. 18, 2019)

“Real estate developers are looking at abandoned bases for large projects like warehouse and logistics centers, which are needed to sustain the growth in e-commerce.” A look into several military bases that have closed and been repurposed for commercial growth opportunities that benefit the local economy.

The Regional Economic Effects of Military Base Realignments and Closures (Defence and Peace Economics, May 2018) E

“This paper empirically investigates the impact of military base realignments and closures on regional economic activity in light of the 2005 round of Base Realignment and Closure actions. Baseline regressions with county-level data show employment regressions indicating more tenuous results for spillover effects from the military to the private sector. Only the contractor type of base employment generated economically and statistically meaningful impacts on local employment.”

Military Base Reuse: As Closures and Realignments March on, so do Real Estate Opportunities (Certified Commercial Investment Member)

“As the list of bases nationwide being closed or realigned has expanded-with more anticipated-commercial real estate opportunities from their redevelopment should increase as well. The lengthy process is challenging, but offers opportunities for commercial real estate professionals near military installations… "Anybody who has a military base in their marketplace right now is in one of the four stages" of development or possible redevelopment: anticipation, announcement, closure, and reuse. Commercial real estate professionals should "identify which of the four stages they're currently in and have not only a survival plan, but an opportunity plan.””

Potential Dangers on Former Military Base Land

Emerging Contaminants and Federal Facility Contaminants of Concern (United States Environmental Protection Agency)

“EPA published the following technical fact sheets, which provide brief summaries of contaminants of concern that present unique issues and challenges to the environmental community and EPA at contaminated federal facility sites. Each fact sheet provides a brief summary of the contaminant, including physical and chemical properties, environmental and health impacts, existing federal and state guidelines, and detection and treatment methods. These fact sheets are intended for project managers and field personnel to use when addressing specific contaminants at cleanup sites and are updated annually to include timely information.”

Federal Agency Hazardous Waste Compliance Docket (United States Environmental Protection Agency)

“Section 120(c) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) requires EPA to establish a listing, known as the Federal Facility Hazardous Waste Compliance Docket (Docket), of Federal facilities which are managing or have managed hazardous waste; or have had a release of hazardous waste.”

Military Munitions/Unexplode Ordnance (United States Environmental Protection Agency)

“Historically, millions of acres of former munitions ranges were transferred from the military to be used for other purposes. These properties are formerly used defense sites (FUDS) or property transferred by the past five rounds of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) (i.e., 1988, 1991, 1993, 1995, 2005). The Department of Defense (DoD) is currently working to further define the inventory of sites and acreage that are potentially contaminated with military munitions and to prioritize these sites for cleanup. Environmental regulators overseeing response actions dealing with military munitions have an independent authority and/or responsibility to evaluate the public safety and environmental aspects of these response actions.”

Useful Websites

Association of Defense Communities — ADC is the connection point for leaders from communities, states, the military and industry on community-military issues and installation management to enhance knowledge, information sharing and best practices.

GAO U.S. Government Accountability Office — The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress. Often called the "congressional watchdog," GAO investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars.

U.S. Department of Defense — Federal website with updates on the latest news about base closures.

Base Realignment and Closure Program (HUD Exchange, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) — Information about HUD’s role in BRAC, specifically to “balance the need for economic and other redevelopment while addressing the needs of people experiencing homelessness at base closure and realignment sites.”

Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Sites by State (United States Environmental Protection Agency) — “EPA assists in the transfer of properties and provides regulatory oversight at many types of Department of Defense (DoD) sites, including Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) sites. Because these facilities often encompass hundreds of acres with buildings, roads and other infrastructure, their effective and efficient cleanup and reuse can play a pivotal role in communities’ economic development.”

eBooks & Other Resources

Books, Videos, Research Reports & More

The resources below are available for loan through Member Support. Up to three books, tapes, CDs and/or DVDs can be borrowed for 30 days from the Library for a nominal fee of $10. Call Member Support at 800-874-6500 for assistance.

Military Base Closure: A Reference Handbook (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2007) HC 79 So6

Military Base Closures (Chicago, IL: Novinka Books, 2003) HC 79 L81

Sustainable Regeneration of Former Military Sites (London: Routledge, 2016) HC79.D4

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