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GAO: Defense Dept. needs to better track climate change protections

GAO: Defense Dept. needs to better track climate change protections
Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., rebuilds after a 2019 hurricane. A General Accountability Report in December cited the Defense Department for inadequate methods of tracking the success of programs related to weather- and climate change-related issues. Photo by TSgt. Liliana Moreno/U.S. Air Force 

Dec. 23 (UPI) -- The Defense Department's $67 million in aid to bases vulnerable to weather issues and climate change lacks a method to gauge success, a report said.

The 92-page report by the General Accountability Office noted that although the Pentagon maintains records of where 2020 funding was applied, it "doesn't currently measure whether its grant programs are achieving their intended objectives. We recommended DOD establish performance measures for the programs."

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The Defense Department administers three grant programs that support community coordination with local military installations on climate change and extreme weather, the longstanding Compatible Use Plan, the Military Installation Resilience and new in 2020, Defense Community Infrastructure Pilot programs. Nearly $67 million was spent in Fiscal Year 2020 on facilitating and funding coordination with surrounding communities, including through joint land use studies and community infrastructure development.

Categories under consideration include recurrent flooding, drought, desertification, wildfires, thawing permafrost, and extreme heat, cold and precipitation.

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The report cites numerous examples of military bases and nearby communities working together to solve weather- and climate-change-related issues. It noted that Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, has worked with local officials to create an alternate water supply for the base, since the groundwater aquifer used was declining in volume.

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The Defense Department "has not developed performance measures to benchmark and to track overall program performance. Without establishing performance measures for these grant programs, DOD and Congress are limited in determining whether desired outcomes are being achieved and whether current and future investments in the grant programs are delivering their intended value," the report said.

The report, released earlier in December, recommended establishment of benchmarks for each of the three programs.

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