Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

BRAC Number Crunching

The supporters of keeping SUBASE New London open have done their homework, and come up with some inconsistencies in the numbers DoD used to decide to move the Groton submarines and tenant commands to other bases.

"In moving the 11 submarines from Norfolk to Groton, the Navy estimated it would have to add 240 repair workers at a cost of $57 per hour. When it looked at moving 11 boats from Groton to Norfolk, it calculated it would need 106 workers at $29 an hour — or about 75 percent less.
"As the coalition works its way through the Pentagon's justification for closing the Groton base, it is finding other instances in which the Navy seems to have underestimated the cost of the shutdown and overestimated the savings that would be achieved.
"Coalition members have said the miscalculations usually seem to favor Norfolk, which would gain two of the three submarine squadrons in Groton, and Kings Bay, which would gain the remaining Groton squadron and the Naval Submarine School.
In recommending that Groton be closed, the Pentagon said the up-front cost would be just under $680 million, while the move would yield annual savings of $192.8 million.
"But coalition members and representatives of the state's congressional delegation showed the commission staff that the up-front cost would approach $850 million, while the savings would be no more than $67 million a year, and possibly much less."

The article does have what might be an attempt by the base supporters to use another form of "fuzzy math" -- the misleading comparison of ratios. Check out this passage:

"The coalition's argument is that the savings are overstated because many of the personnel would be needed at the new bases. Sailors who move from Groton to Norfolk, for example, still would need medical care. The Navy said it now has about 528 medical personnel caring for 7,096 military personnel in Groton, a ratio of about 1 to 13. But it proposes to move just 62 of those medical jobs with 6,485 transfers, a ratio of about 1 to 105."

Note that the two ratios aren't comparing the same thing. The non-discriminating reader might assume that those 6,485 transfers will only have 62 medical personnel caring for them; however, King's Bay and Norfolk already have lots of medical personnel there, so the caregiver:patient ratios would end up being something more realistic. Plus, it seems to me that the 1 in 13 number is way high... I've had to wait long enough for appointments at the base hospital medical clinic to throw the b.s. flag on that one. My guess is that there are 528 personnel in Groton with medical NECs and officer designators, including the people at NUMI, not all of whom are working in primary care.

Overall, it seems the Groton base supporters have come up with a lot of evidence showing that the Navy's numbers are slanted in such a way that they make Groton look bad, and Norfolk and King's Bay look good. If true, it seems that there are two possible explanations: incompetence. or a systematic policy to ignore the BRAC guidelines in favor of a pre-determined result. Based on my experience, I'd have to lean towards the former. As the saying goes: "Never attribute to malice that which can be ascribed to sheer stupidity."


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