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Sunday, August 14, 2005
Probably Wise
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 7:59 am

Via the NYT: Many on Base-Closings Panel Question Estimate of Savings.

When has a government estimate of costs or savings ever ended up to be on target? For one thing, such cost/savings estimates are difficult to do in the first place and more importantly the politicians and bureaucrats who do them know, consciously or unconsciously, that they won’t be around to face the heat when the tie comes to determine if the original numbers were good or not.

In this case we are talking about a twenty year period:

A majority of the members of the independent commission assessing the Pentagon’s proposed list of domestic base closings say that the Defense Department probably overstated the nearly $50 billion in savings projected over 20 years, perhaps by nearly 50 percent.

And this is pretty typical as well when it comes to long-term cost estimates:

After scores of base visits and public hearings, most of the commission members interviewed said they now agreed with a report issued this summer by federal investigators that concluded that nearly half of the Pentagon’s projected savings came from cuts in military jobs that, in many cases

Of course, on the flip side, the article does note that while there may well be replacements for eliminated jobs, some (exact numbers not given) will come in the form of new positions related the modernization and restructuring of the military. The movements are not just about movements per se, but are supposed to be about force realignments and restructuring due to changes in mission. If done right these movements and closures are supposed to help transform the military from a Cold War posture to one better geared to the war on terror.

Indeed, the ultimate goal here is supposed to be strategic, not economic. The economic is the political selling point to try and assuage the losses specific communities and states will feel due to closures:

“Military value trumps everything,” said Adm. Harold W. Gehman Jr., a retired Navy officer on the panel. “It’s very likely that we’ll support a Defense Department recommendation even if it couldn’t demonstrate the payback, if we were absolutely convinced the military value was significant. But the burden of proof would be on them.”

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