An official website of the United States government.

This is not the current EPA website. To navigate to the current EPA website, please go to This website is historical material reflecting the EPA website as it existed on January 19, 2021. This website is no longer updated and links to external websites and some internal pages may not work. More information »

Cleanups at Federal Facilities

Base Reuse Process Overview

To achieve the optimum reuse potential of every closing or realigning base, it is essential that both Military Department implementers and the LRA understand the basic elements of the entire process. Each action taken in the process should be conducted with the whole process in mind. The purpose of this chapter is to describe the framework for the base reuse process and the general context for the rest of the information in this Manual.

The base reuse process is affected by a myriad of Federal real property and environmental laws and regulations, along with volumes of implementing guidance. Some of these laws (e.g., BCRA 88 and the DBCRA 90) were specifically enacted to govern certain parts of this process. The remainder, however, were enacted to address more routine Government property transactions or highly specific problems such as environmental cleanup. Collectively, they have a great effect on the process (see Appendix A for further information on many of these laws and regulations).

When does the base reuse process begin?
What's the best way to look at the process?

Bases are selected for realignment or closure according to a process prescribed in the Defense Authorization Amendments and Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1988 and the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1990. Once a base has been approved for closure or realignment, laws and regulations identify the requirements that (see Appendices A-C and E) shape the rest of the process to be followed—the beginning of base reuse implementation. The general timeline for events associated with BRAC 95 reuse implementation is shown in Figure 2-1. Some of the milestones shown in Figure 2-1 may be extended by mutual agreement between the Military Department and the LRA.

Although Figure 2-1 depicts a seemingly linear and sequential series of events, the base reuse process is best viewed as a series of concurrently conducted activities that can be subdivided into three principal phases: base-wide reuse planning, disposal decision making, and parcel-by-parcel decision implementation. Figure 2-2 shows how the three phases and various principal base reuse activities relate to one another.

Figure 2-1. Illustrative timeline for selected reuse implementation activities

Top of page

DoD Base Reuse Implementation Manual

Base Reuse Implementation Process Flow Chart
Figure 2-2. Phases of Base Reuse Implementation

Implementation of the overall base reuse process (including the actual closure and the base's conversion from military to civilian uses) can be an enormously complex undertaking, involving literally hundreds or thousands of individuals, collectively devoting many hours of hard work.

Phase One: The first phase, base-wide reuse planning (further described in Section 2.1), consists of the many activities that occur while the LRA prepares its redevelopment plan and before the Military Department, in its role as the Federal property disposal agent, makes decisions on how the base will be conveyed to end users. These activities include the LRA's redevelopment planning process and the Military Department's required environmental impact analysis activities, natural and cultural resources determinations and consultations, identification of uncontaminated property, and many environmental cleanup- and compliance-related activities.

Phase Two: The second phase includes activities associated with the Military Department's disposal decision making (further described in Section 2.2). This phase may include the issuance of one or more Disposal Record(s) of Decision (RODs), or similar decision documents. It also includes the approval of applications submitted by the LRA or others for property under various public purpose conveyance authorities (e.g., public airport, economic development, and other public purpose conveyances).

Phase Three: After final disposal decisions have been issued by the Military Department, the last phase, parcel-by-parcel decision implementation (further described in Section 2.3), occurs for each disposal parcel. This phase lasts until the property has been conveyed and includes environmental activities that must be performed prior to deed transfer.

Who gets involved in the base reuse process?
Who can I get in touch with to get more help?

For this complex undertaking to be successfully implemented, teamwork is critical. Individuals from the Military Department, the on-site Base Transition Coordinator, the DoD Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) Project Manager, the LRA, local and State government, and other Federal, State, and local reuse planning and implementation organizations will all play key roles.

Many of the organizations that will be involved in the process at a closing or realigning installation are not explicitly identified in this Manual. However, Federal points of contact to assist with base reuse implementation are identified in Appendix G. Also, a comprehensive list of available organizations, including individuals to contact, can be found in the Appendix of the Community Guide to Base Reuse, published by OEA and OASD(ES). The Guide may be obtained by contacting OEA (See page G-1 for address). The Guide also provides information intended for local officials, LRAs, and the general public, including practical advice on organizing an LRA and developing and implementing a redevelopment plan.

Top of page

2.1 Phase One: Base-Wide Reuse Planning

Reuse planning requires the concurrent execution of numerous activities, most of which are required by law. Generally, this phase begins at the approval date for the closure or realignment of the installation (see Figure 2-1) and ends when the LRA's redevelopment plan has been prepared and submitted to the Military Department, which must then complete any required environmental impact analyses and analyze any other information needed to make final disposal decisions. OEA has grant moneys available to assist LRAs with reuse planning.

To be successful, reuse planning efforts must be well organized and well coordinated. For example, the LRA will generally accomplish the following activities during reuse planning:

  • Form, be recognized by the Department of Defense, and receive economic adjustment planning assistance.

  • Solicit, identify, and consider various interests in installation property.

  • Conduct outreach activities that focus on community needs, including homeless assistance needs.

  • If useful, request interim leases of available installation facilities.

  • Identify its own interests in available personal property.

  • Develop a comprehensive land-use plan.

  • Conduct market research and marketing activities to attract prospective property users.

  • Prepare a comprehensive redevelopment plan and other essential reuse related planning documents.

Concurrently, and in coordination with the LRA's activities described above, the Military Department will complete these tasks:

  • Identify installation property, which is excess to DoD's needs and surplus to the Federal Government's needs, that will be made available for reuse.

  • Inventory personal property and consult with the LRA to identify the personal property that will be made available to the LRA for reuse.

  • Determine and analyze environmental impacts that may occur on the property as a result of its disposal actions.

  • Identify potentially impacted natural or cultural resources on the property and any mitigation measures that may have to be taken.

  • Conduct an environmental baseline survey to identify the environmental condition of installation property, including property that is uncontaminated and can be made available for reuse without further environmental actions.

  • Refocus current environmental cleanup, compliance, and natural and cultural resources strategies and schedules in light of the LRA's land-use plan and redevelopment priorities.

  • Relocate active mission elements (mission drawdown).

  • Plan for and carry out protection and maintenance (caretaking) of installation property and facilities not immediately reused at the time of active mission departure/base closure.

As shown in Figure 2-2, reuse planning activities should be concurrently conducted to the extent possible, so the Military Department can have the information it needs to make property transfer decisions. Reuse planning activities can be grouped into four principal categories:

  1. Comprehensive land-use and redevelopment planning, including LRA formation, recognition, and reuse planning activities, Military Department/LRA community interface activities, and Military Department disposal planning activities (including interim leasing of facilities no longer needed by the active mission), conducted to assist LRA reuse planning efforts (see also Section 2.1.1).

  2. Environmental impact and other impact analysis (see also Section 2.1.2).

  3. The BRAC Environmental Process, including environmental baseline surveys and environmental cleanup activities (which includes mission/operational and closure-related compliance activities) (see also Section 2.1.3).

  4. Installation management, including active mission drawdown, protection and maintenance of facilities, and caretaker operations (see also Section 2.1.4).

Top of page

2.1.2 Comprehensive Land-use and Redevelopment Planning

Both DBCRA 90 and the Redevelopment Act identify specific reuse planning phase requirements and timelines (see Appendix B of this Manual for the full text of these statutes and Figure 2-1, which depicts significant milestones). Many of these requirements and timelines relate to LRAs soliciting interest in the installation, conducting homeless assistance outreach activities, identifying personal property needs, considering expressions of interest in property, consulting with the Military Department while it determines initial maintenance levels for installation facilities, and preparing and submitting the redevelopment plan. The timely submission of both a redevelopment plan and any necessary property applications will facilitate the Military Department's ability to make final property disposal decisions that will best meet community reuse goals. The Community Guide to Base Reuse contains essential information on LRA formation, organization, and recognition, reuse planning strategies, and strategies for creating a viable redevelopment plan. This Manual provides guidance for many of the real- and personal-property-related activities.

Top of page

2.1.3 Environmental Impact and Other Impact Analyses

What affect does the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) have on the planning process?

As part of the reuse planning phase, the Military Department, under the National Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. Section 4321 et seq. (NEPA), must consider all reasonable disposal alternatives and their respective environmental consequences. This is accomplished by means of a formal environmental impact analysis, which commonly takes the form of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Additionally, the Military Department is required to analyze impacts to natural and cultural resources (e.g., historic structures, wetlands, threatened and endangered species, Native American sites and others), and may be required to consult with other Federal and State agencies before making final property disposal decisions.

Requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

The NEPA process is intended to help the Military Department make informed and environmentally responsible disposal decisions. The NEPA process requires the Military Department to conduct environmental analysis concerning:

  • The environmental impact of the proposed disposal action, including reasonably anticipated reuse activities.

  • Alternatives to the proposed disposal and reuse action, including the "noaction" alternative.

  • Adverse impacts.

  • Any appropriate environmental impact mitigation actions.

For disposal of closing or realigning installations, the NEPA process (described in 40 CFR Parts 1500-1508) is typically completed in one of three ways:

  • Categorical Exclusion. If applicable, a categorical exclusion may be used by the Military Department when a parcel is to be transferred to another Military Department or Federal Agency.

    A categorical exclusion may also be used by the Military Department for interim leases where there is no substantial change in land use.

  • Environmental Assessment (EA)/Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). The EA provides the Military Department with sufficient evidence and analysis for determining whether a FONSI or an EIS should be prepared. A FONSI is a determination that, based on the EA, the disposal action will not significantly affect the environment and a full EIS is not necessary. The Military Department may receive public comments on the EA and the applicability of a FONSI. After a FONSI, the Military Department can issue a formal disposal decision for the property.

  • EIS/Disposal Record of Decision (ROD). Preparation of an EIS involves a more formal public involvement process, which can be summarized as follows:

    • The Military Department publishes a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register that a property disposal action may be undertaken and that an EIS will be prepared and considered.

    • A public scoping meeting will be held in the geographical area to obtain public comments about the possible environmental impacts of the proposed disposal action and likely reuses, as well as the reasonable alternatives that should be considered in the analysis. It is therefore important for the LRA and other interested community leaders to participate in the scoping meeting.

    • Data are collected and analyzed by experts in different fields, and the results are published in a Draft EIS (DEIS). The DEIS will be made available for public review and comment. Interested agencies, organizations, and individuals normally have 45 days to review and comment. Also during this time, a public hearing is held in the community to explain DEIS findings and to receive oral comments.

    • The Final EIS (FEIS) is completed no later than 12 months after the submittal of the LRA's redevelopment plan. The FEIS will address public and other comments received on the DEIS. A Notice of Availability (NOA) of the FEIS will be published in the Federal Register.

    At least 30 days after publication of the FEIS, a disposal ROD is issued. The disposal ROD indicates the disposal actions that have been selected, the alternatives considered, the potential environmental impacts of each alternative, and any specific mitigation activity to support the decision. After the ROD is signed and issued, the availability of the disposal ROD is announced in the Federal Register. Then, the Military Department may dispose of the property if other actions are complete.

What is DoD's policy on NEPA ?

It is DoD policy (DoD Guidance on Accelerating the NEPA Process for Base Disposal Decisions, Deputy Secretary of Defense Memorandum "Fast Track Cleanup at Closing Installations," September 1993 see Appendix F) that the Military Department will generally use the LRA's redevelopment plan, if available, practicable, and not in conflict with statutory or regulatory requirements, as the basis for the proposed action and alternatives in complying with NEPA. If the elements of the redevelopment plan do not constitute a reasonable alternative for disposal and reuse of the base, the Military Department will identify the problematic elements of the plan and work with the LRA to devise mutually acceptable plan modifications. Designation of the LRA's redevelopment plan as the proposed action does not affect the Military Department's obligation under NEPA to consider reasonable alternatives for the disposal and reuse of installation property. In the event that the LRA does not reach a consensus or fails to prepare an acceptable or timely redevelopment plan, the Military Department will prepare the NEPA analysis using reasonable assumptions as to the likely reuse scenarios and their reasonable alternatives.

Section 2911 of Title XXIX and DoD policy (as referenced above and found in Appendix F) require that any required NEPA analysis be completed no later than 12 months after the LRA submits its adopted redevelopment plan.

A similar NEPA analysis process will apply when property is reused under an interim lease (see chapter 5). Normally, only a categorical exclusion or an EA will be involved and can be accomplished in less time than a full EIS.

Top of page

2.1.4 The BRAC Environmental Process

How are other environmental issues addressed?

The Military Departments have had ongoing environmental cleanup programs for many years as part of the Department of Defense Environmental Restoration Program. Environmental programs are emphasized and expedited at closure bases through the BRAC Environmental Process, which includes environmental cleanup actions and other environmental issues that may impact property reuse. Many environmental activities will occur during the reuse planning phase. Therefore, it will be important for the Military Department to be aware of the LRA's reuse concepts as soon as they are formulated. It is also important for the Military Department to communicate environmental issues to the LRA early in the process, to ensure reuse planning is compatible with environmental conditions. This way, environmental priorities can be reconciled with community reuse priorities, and appropriate cleanup levels can be established to reflect anticipated future land uses.

BRAC Environmental Planning

The BRAC environmental planning process consists of five principal steps, which can be described as follows:

  • A BRAC Cleanup Team (BCT), an important source of information for reuse planning, is designated for each base where property will be made available to the local community for reuse. The BCT will include a BRAC Environmental Coordinator (or BEC—a Military Department employee), and representatives from the State environmental agency and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) regional office. The BCT should work closely with the environmental subcommittee of the LRA. The LRA should receive cleanup information from the BCT and should, in turn, provide the BCTwith input on reuse priorities and decisions.

  • The BCT reviews the status of all environmental programs (including cleanup, compliance, and natural and cultural resources programs) at the base, as well as the LRA's redevelopment plan, unless it is not yet available. In the latter case, the BCT should consider anticipated community needs.

  • The BCT identifies action items requiring further effort, and develops a strategy for base environmental programs to incorporate both reuse and environmental priorities.

  • A BRAC Cleanup Plan (BCP) is prepared, describing the status of base environmental programs, and identifying strategies and schedules for integrating the environmental cleanup with the community reuse plan.

  • As contamination is remediated, the BCP is updated to reflect cleanup and site close-out actions that have been taken, as well as any changes in community redevelopment needs.

Property that is being cleaned up can often be put into productive economic reuse by either lease or deed, with the Military Department and the BCT working to ensure that cleanup activities do not unnecessarily impede reuse activities.

What is the Restoration Advisory Board (RAB)?

Restoration Advisory Boards (RABs)

All DoD installations being closed or realigned will establish a RAB, if property will be available for transfer. RABs are co-chaired by community and installation representatives and serve as a forum for information exchange and partnership among citizens, the installation, EPA, and the State on environmental restoration issues.

RABs offer an opportunity for communities to have a voice in the cleanup process by bringing together people who reflect the diverse interests within the local community. Community members on RAB can actively participate in a timely and thorough manner. This participation includes reviewing restoration documents and providing advice as individuals to the decision-makers from the Military Department and the regulatory agencies on restoration issues.

While RABs are not intended to replace other community involvement activities, the RAB should act as a focal point for the exchange of information between an installation and the local community regarding environmental restoration activities. Members will be expected to serve as a liaison with the community and be available to meet with community members and groups. Through the RAB, community input on environmental investigation, cleanup, and priorities can be raised directly to DoD, EPA, and State regulatory representatives. Further guidelines for establishing and operating RAB can be found at Appendix F in the Restoration Advisory Board Implementation Guidelines, September 1994, jointly issued by DoD and EPA.

What is CERFA?

What are FOSTs and FOSLs?

What's an EBS?

Environmental Suitability for Transfer or Lease

To facilitate reuse planning efforts, the Military Department, under the Community Environmental Response Facilitation Act (CERFA), will identify "uncontaminated" base property no later than 18 months after the date of approval for closure or realignment. This identification procedure includes consultation with appropriate State or EPA regulators. In addition, no property can be conveyed by deed or leased until the Military Department makes a Finding of Suitability to Transfer (FOST) or a Finding of Suitability to Lease (FOSL), respectively.

The FOST/FOSL process is intended to determine whether property is environmentally suitable for its intended use and whether there should be any restricted use of the property. An Environmental Baseline Survey (EBS), which is similar to the environmental site assessments commonly used in commercial real estate transactions, is used to support the FOST/FOSL. An EBS includes the identification and analysis of all available and relevant records, a visual and physical inspection of the base and adjacent property, a recorded chain-of-title documents review, interviews with past and current base employees and local officials. and other activities.

Where can I find more guidance on FOSTs/FOSLs, EBSs, and CERFA?

Military Department implementers, in consultation with the LRA, should provide input to the BCT well in advance on properties to be reused so that a FOST/FOSL can be developed, and so that the BCT can ensure that there are no environmental impediments to the intended reuse. Further guidance on the EBS/FOSL/FOST/CERFA processes can be found in the DoD guidance documents included in Appendix F.

Appendix A of this Manual identifies and summarizes pertinent environmental laws and regulations that affect base reuse implementation. Further information on the BRAC environmental process can be found in DoD Guidance on Establishing Base Realignment and Closure Cleanup Teams (September 1993), which can be found in Appendix F of this Manual.

Top of page

2.1.5 Installation Management

As an installation goes through the process of closure or realignment, duties assigned to active units, including operation of utilities and maintenance of buildings, roads and other facilities, must eventually be assumed by others. Representatives of the Military Department, in consultation with the LRA, will identify an initial level of maintenance that facilities will require to support reuse after the active mission departs (see chapter 6 of the Manual for further information on how initial maintenance levels are determined).

Another aspect of Military Department/LRA consultation is that of establishing procedures and responsibilities for providing common services, including fire protection, security, telephones, roads, and snow/ice removal. How these common services will be provided after the base closes should be discussed and resolved in the earliest stages of consultation. Once closure occurs, the Military Departments will sustain an appropriate level of maintenance to support reuse for a set period of time (see chapter 6). Such protection and maintenance at a closed military base is provided through contracts, agreements with local communities, or other caretaker arrangements. Maintenance by the Military Department will end when the property is leased or disposed of, or at the expiration of the set maintenance period. Once property is leased or disposed of, its maintenance becomes the responsibility of the Lessee or property recipient.

Top of page

2.2 Phase Two: Disposal Decision Making

How and when are final property disposal decisions made?

The second major phase of the base reuse process, disposal decision making, includes the activities associated with the Military Department's disposal decisions and the LRA's reuse decisions. After reuse planning activities are completed, the LRA will submit its adopted redevelopment plan to the Department of Defense and, if the plan contains provisions for homeless assistance, as part of an application made to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), in accordance with the Redevelopment Act. HUD will review and approve the LRA's application for homeless assistance.

After completing its NEPA analysis and associated documentation, the Military Department will issue final disposal decisions. This is generally accomplished by issuing a disposal ROD or other decision document as a public statement of the disposal decisions. The disposal ROD describes the disposal decisions that the Military Department has made for each parcel to be transferred, as well as potential mitigation that may be required if certain activities occur. In certain circumstances, supplements to the initial disposal ROD may also be issued.

This phase also includes the Military Department's decisions on requests for specific property conveyances (briefly described in Section 2.3) to approved applicants. Applications (see chapter 3 and Appendix E of this Manual for additional information on public purpose applications) are required for most discounted conveyances of property for public purpose conveyances. For example, the Department of Education must review and approve an application prior to the Military Department's implementation of an education public benefit conveyance. EDCs also require an application. Title XXIX and the final rule (32 CFR Parts 90 and 91; see Appendices B and C of this Manual for the complete text of each, and chapter 7 for further Military Department guidance) identify the requirements for LRAs who want to apply for EDCs and the criteria the Military Departments should use in evaluating EDC applications.

The Military Department always retains ultimate authority to make property disposal decisions and will resolve any conflicting property interests at the time the final disposal decisions are issued.

Top of page

2.3 Phase Three: Parcel-by-Parcel Decision Implementation

After necessary applications have been submitted, reviewed, and accepted, and after final ? disposal decisions are issued by the Military Department, the reuse process enters the decision implementation phase. This phase includes Military Department conveyance of installation property (or property "disposal"). When environmental remedial actions (or site close-out actions) have been taken to comply with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), as amended, the Military Department will proceed to dispose of property in accordance with its documented disposal decisions, using conveyance authorities established by the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 (40 U.S.C. Section 471 et seq.), the Surplus Property Act of 1944 (49 U.S.C. Sections 47151-47153), the Act of May 19, 1948 (16 U.S.C. Section 667b), Title XXIX, the Redevelopment Act, and other authorizing statutes, as implemented in the Federal Property Management Regulations (41 CFR Part 101-47), 32 CFR Part 91, and elsewhere. The Military Departments can transfer property to another Federal agency before the completion of remedial actions required by CERCLA and before the issuance of a disposal ROD.

Base property will be conveyed (usually by one or more parcels), as soon as possible, by deed for civilian reuse. One of eight property conveyance methods can be used:

What methods can be used to convey property at BRAC installations

  1. Federal agency transfers of excess base property to non-DoD organizations within the Federal Government. These transfers require reimbursement to the Military Department of the full fair market value of the property, unless:

    The Secretary of the Military Department and the Office of Management and Budget grant a waiver; or

    A law specifically exempts the transfer from reimbursement.

  2. Public purpose conveyances for such public uses as airports, education, health, historic monuments, ports, parks and recreation, and wildlife conservation. Generally, a Federal agency with specific expertise in a conveyance category (e.g., the National Park Service for park land and recreation conveyances) is authorized to serve as a sponsoring or approving agency. Approved recipients may receive these conveyances at a substantial discount (up to 100 percent of fair market value), following DoD consultation with the appropriate agency.

  3. Homeless assistance conveyances (under the Redevelopment Act) at no cost, either to the LRA or directly to the representatives of the homeless. Any deeds prepared by the Military Department for conveyance of property directly to representatives of the homeless should provide for transfer of the property to the LRA if no longer required for homeless needs. Personal property may be conveyed to the local redevelopment authority for use by the homeless assistance provider. The LRA will be responsible for monitoring implementation of the homeless assistance provisions of its redevelopment plan.

  4. Negotiated sales to public bodies or other qualified entities require payment of not less than the fair market value, although payment terms are negotiable. Terms of negotiated sales are subject to review by Congress.

  5. Advertised public sales may be made to the party that submits the highest bid, provided it is not less than the fair market value. Sales to private parties for amounts over $3 million are subject to Attorney General review.

  6. EDCs to an LRA, for creating jobs and economic revitalization of the community, are approved by the Military Department and may be sold at or below the estimated present fair market value with flexible payment terms and conditions. EDCs are discussed in detail in chapter 7.

  7. Conveyances for the cost of environmental remediation may be made to those parties who enter into an agreement to pay the costs of environmental remediation on the property, provided that the total cost to the recipient is no less than the property's fair market value. Implementing regulations for this conveyance authority, required by Section 2908 of Title XXIX, have been promulgated as a proposed rule and are being revised.

  8. Depository institution facilities may be conveyed to the operating depository institution, by sale at fair market value, when the institution constructed or substantially improved the facilities.

For property with ongoing cleanup efforts, leases may be used to achieve prompt reuse. However, the Military Department must ensure that all environmental actions necessary to protect human health and the environment have been taken before any transfer by deed can take place. This means that all remedial actions necessary for any remaining contamination have been put in place and are operating properly and successfully, to EPA's satisfaction. In any such case, the Military Department will remain responsible for completing the cleanup.

Top of page