Army Corps officials are weighing whether to trim the number of Army Corps buildings and offices in an effort to reduce the number that can be converted to hotel rooms.
The number of facilities in the corps’ Office of Housing and Community Development is expected to drop from more than 1,500 in fiscal year 2018 to 800 by 2019, according to a memorandum from acting Secretary David A. T. Ruppaner.
It is a significant cut to a corps already facing financial pressures, particularly as the corps is under increased pressure from the Trump administration and other members of Congress to save money.
A large percentage of the office space in the office of housing and community development was built before the 1970s.
The memo says that while the Office of the Secretary of the Army has jurisdiction over building design and occupancy, there is no requirement that those buildings be used for housing.
Instead, they can be used by the Corps for general purposes such as offices, transportation, and research, according the memo.
Daniel Cottrell, acting deputy secretary of the Navy, said he expects that number to fall.
“I think it is a fair bet that the office will fall into that category,” he said.
“We’re working hard on it.”
Cottrel, who will leave his post at the end of the year, said that the corps does have other uses for office space.
The Office of Education and Training, for example, has a large building on the northwest corner of Camp Pendleton that houses the Corps’ School of the Americas program.
But the Office for Civilian and Overseas Affairs, which has a smaller building on Camp Lejeune, is not a “home office” for the corps.
“It is not an appropriate use for a home office,” Cottrill said.
Rufus E. Williams, the acting chief of the military department’s office of public affairs, said in a statement that the memo does not address any other facilities in which the corps could potentially use its office space to house facilities.
The Pentagon also will soon begin a process to determine whether it will be able to keep its $8.7 billion surplus, which was set to be rolled out in 2020, or whether it could use the funds to fund other priorities.
Under the spending plan, the Pentagon is expected keep $5 billion in its war-cost savings account and will begin rolling out a series of programs to help veterans and their families.
The plan also includes $4 billion to address the “financial stress” on the Pentagon caused by the military’s $1.9 trillion budget, which included a $3.5 billion cut to the Pentagon’s base budget.
The fiscal year that began in October 2018 will be the first time that the Defense Department will see a $1 billion increase in its base budget for the next five years, according, in part, to the $1 trillion war-budget.
In recent years, the defense budget has been among the Pentagon the most fiscally strapped in the government.
The cuts to the defense force have also coincided with a number of other initiatives that have cut spending in areas including health care and education, according as the Pentagon was preparing to spend $400 million on a new school to replace the one in Virginia Beach, Va., where a gunman killed 20 people in 2017.
“That is not something that can happen overnight,” Ruppannner said.
He said the corps would make “significant investments” in “building new, innovative and innovative-looking buildings” to help combat homelessness and the “housing crisis.”
The memo did not say how much of the money would go toward a new hotel, but it did say the Corps was working to find ways to “reduce the amount of office space that is occupied by the office.”