Auditor general of the Air Force: auditors' role in BRAC.
The entire DoD, including Service and defense agency auditors, is fully engaged in the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process authorized by Congress in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year (FY) 2002 (Public Law 107-107, 28 December 2001). The Secretary of Defense and Service secretaries have called upon their auditors to ensure the integrity of the process. Air Force Audit Agency (AFAA) coverage of the Air Force BRAC process began in FY 2002 and will continue throughout FY 2004 and into FY 2005. In coordination with Air Force BRAC managers, we have planned 12 audits covering a broad range of issues including internal controls, automated systems, and data collection and analysis. Providing such broad coverage presents many challenges to AFAA and the DoD audit community as a whole. Let me highlight some of these challenges and discuss how AFAA is meeting them.
Congressional BRAC milestones are critical and unforgiving. Audits must be carefully planned so that BRAC managers will have the results in time to make any necessary corrections and meet Congressionally mandated milestones. AFAA auditors have closely coordinated with Air Force BRAC managers to overlay the BRAC process timeline with planned audits and develop specific audit results due dates. Because many of the process timeframes are severely compressed, AFAA will provide interim audit results memorandums to facilitate timely corrective action by Air Force BRAC managers.
BRAC data and information must be protected from public disclosure. Although not classified, BRAC data is designated sensitive and must be protected from early disclosure and speculation that could adversely impact the process. The DoD and Air Force BRAC 2005 Internal Control Plans require individuals working or participating within the process or providing support to the process to sign non-disclosure agreements. The plans also require all information (paper and electronic media) supporting the BRAC process be marked as deliberative and not releasable under the Freedom of Information Act. Auditors will test for compliance with these requirements at all Air Force levels and are complying with these requirements by completing non-disclosure agreements and marking all audit working papers and correspondence with the appropriate statement. Auditors are also taking precautions to protect electronic working papers from inadvertent exposure by not maintaining them on file servers or working with them on computers that are connected to a network.
Audit responsibilities must be coordinated Defense-wide. OSDs focus in this BRAC round is on joint basing. Joint cross-service teams will analyze common business-oriented support functions at the DoD level while the military departments analyze all Service-unique functions. To establish clear audit responsibilities and avoid duplication of audit effort, AFAA joined with auditors from the General Accounting Office, the DoD Inspector General, Army Audit Agency, and Naval Audit Service to establish the BRAC 2005 Joint Audit Planning Group. The Group also includes defense agency auditors. The Group meets each month to coordinate defense-wide audit work. DoD auditors also meet regularly with the responsible OSD BRAC officials to discuss audit issues such as the design of statistical sampling plans that are representative of the populations being tested and meet defense-wide audit needs.
Innovative, web-based approach to data collection requires audit validation. The Air Force Base Questionnaire is the primary means of collecting data for use in the base realignment and closure process. Questionnaire data will be collected via a web-based tool. Use of this tool will ease the data collection, review, and certification processes and reduce requirements for handling, mailing, and storing large volumes of paper during BRAC 2005. Despite these advantages, a web-based approach carries certain risks such as unauthorized access to and manipulation of sensitive BRAC data. AFAA is reviewing the data collection tool for compliance with DoD and Air Force system control requirements. The audit will identify weak controls to Air Force BRAC managers for risks assessment.
The Air Force (and AFAA) has lead Service responsibility for the Installation Visualization Tool (IVT). The Air Force is the lead Service for the IVT program, a planned capability to enhance DoDs overall ability to manage its infrastructure. The IVT would provide BRAC decision makers the capability to see an image of each installation with overlays of certain geospatial characteristics such as base boundaries, noise contours, floodplains, and wetlands. The IVT Program Office is procuring installation images centrally while data for overlays will be collected from installations and major commands in accordance with the IVT Quality Assurance Plan. As a pioneer in the area of geospatial data audits, AFAA is developing and performing two audits to assess the adequacy of IVT system controls and the reliability of IVT data. AFAA will share IVT audit programs and results with other DoD auditors.
The Air Force's overarching goal is to use the BRAC 2005 process to shape infrastructure for maximum operational capability. Because the results will be highly controversial and scrutinized by state and local governments as well as the private sector, the auditors' role in the BRAC process cannot be overemphasized. AFAA will devote significant resources to ensure the accuracy, completeness, integration, and protection of all information and analytical processes upon which the Secretary of the Air Force's BRAC 2005 recommendations to the Secretary of Defense are based.