Cover: Military Installation Public-to-Public Partnerships

Military Installation Public-to-Public Partnerships

Lessons from Past and Current Experiences

Published Jul 12, 2016

by Beth E. Lachman, Susan A. Resetar, Frank Camm


Download eBook for Free

Full Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 1.5 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

Research Synopsis

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.2 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.


Purchase Print Copy

 Format Price
Add to Cart Paperback210 pages $49.50

Research Questions

  1. What are the different kinds of installation partnerships that have been successfully implemented and that are in development?
  2. What functional areas are these installation partnerships in?
  3. What kind of approaches, objectives, and authorities are used for installation public-to-public partnerships (PuPs)?
  4. What are the benefits to installations and communities of successfully implementing installation PuPs?
  5. What are the barriers to developing and implementing installation PuPs?
  6. What are recommendations to help overcome such barriers?

U.S. military installations have a long history of partnering with municipalities and other government organizations. The purpose of this study was to clarify the appropriate use and potential value of public-to-public partnerships (PuPs) to Department of Defense (DoD) installations, identify barriers to their cost-effective application, and recommend ways to overcome these barriers. The objectives also included providing an overview of existing installation PuPs, including their purposes and approaches, and lessons learned from their development and implementation. The authors found that installation partnerships exist in a wide range of functional areas, including infrastructure and management partnerships (e.g., water, energy, environment, transportation, operations and maintenance, safety and security, and emergency services partnerships) and partnerships involving services and support for military personnel, their families, retirees, and DoD civilians (e.g., partnerships for recreation, children's services, adult education, libraries, social services, and medical and health issues). Installation partnerships also aid military missions, such as helping with testing, training, and research and development. The authors also found that partnerships yield many kinds of benefits to both installations and communities: economic value; enhanced missions, installation operations, and support services; access to additional expertise and resources; energy and environmental advantages; enhanced ability to address regional issues; improved military-community relations; and support for community values. Partnerships require resources and time to develop, and not all partnerships will succeed. Recommendations to address the diverse barriers in developing installation partnerships include committing and investing suitable time and resources, assigning clear lines of responsibilities within the partnership, developing a well-written agreement, facilitating partnership champions, and maintaining routine communications at multiple levels. The Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Service headquarters should continue with policy support, technical assistance, and education- and information-sharing; and should promote strategic regional collaboration.

Key Findings

Thousands of Installation PuPs Exist and Many Appropriate Opportunities Exist for More Partnerships in Diverse Functional Areas

  • They occur in most nonmission functional areas, including installation infrastructure and management areas and services for military personnel and their families.
  • Some mission partnerships also exist in areas such as testing and training.
  • Stakeholders may underestimate the time and resources required to develop and implement partnerships, especially when they are large and complex, and not all partnerships will succeed.

Diverse Authorities and Approaches Are Used for Installation-Community Partnerships

  • The legal authorities that are used range from more-general authorities to those applicable to specific functional areas.
  • Some partnerships are developed through official defense and Service programs, while others are at the local level and may be informal agreements.
  • Many organizations are participating in partnerships with military installations. Installations partner with a variety of local, state, and federal agencies, and with nonprofits, for-profits, and even private individuals.

A Wide Range of Benefits Is Experienced by Installations and Communities from Installation PuPs

  • Benefits include improved military mission; improved strategic regional and local collaboration and relationships; economic benefits; improved installation and community operations, facilities, infrastructure, and services; access to additional capacity in capital, equipment, expertise and other resources; energy and environmental benefits; and maintaining community character and way of life.
  • Multiple benefits can occur for both parties, as well as broader public-good benefits.

There Are Barriers to Installation PuPs

  • General partnership challenges experienced by most partnerships include cultural differences, resistance to change, dissemination of risk, and place-specific issues.
  • Installations and communities face a similar range of challenges in trying to develop and implement PuPs, including staffing issues, communication challenges, lack of interest or sufficient support, and constraints in expertise and resources.
  • Other barriers include challenges in creating, implementing, and maintaining the partnership agreement or contract; security and access concerns; and federal, state, and local policy, legislative, and regulatory challenges.


  • OSD and the Services should expand and continue to provide education, training, and technical assistance to installations and communities to streamline, simplify, and speed up partnership processes.
  • OSD and the Services should provide communities and installation staff with a range of materials (including an installation PuP guide and in-depth case studies) to assist them in developing and implementing installation partnerships.
  • Each Service should educate commanders and other installation managers and staff about collaborating with communities.
  • Service headquarters and regions should help facilitate more regional collaboration across different military installations and governmental groups. Such collaboration processes are needed for issues that are most effectively addressed at the regional level, including transportation, water, energy, housing, growth, airspace, encroachment, emergency response, security, and environmental concerns.
  • Military senior leaders and installation personnel should communicate realistic time lines and goals about installation partnerships.
  • Installation and community partners should ensure that leaders and staff are committed to developing a long-term relationship and that all participants understand the importance of developing a long-term mutually beneficial relationship.
  • Leaders and managers should facilitate partnership champions who can communicate objectives, motivate change, and address barriers.
  • Clear partnership responsibilities should be assigned and there should be routine and ongoing communications at multiple levels.
  • The partners should develop a well-written partnership agreement or contract that includes objectives and performance criteria, spells out risk-sharing and other responsibilities, and provides the consequences for not meeting the agreement terms.
  • Finally, if the military objective is to reduce cost, when considering an installation PuP for a high-cost installation function or service, the military installation should assess a range of alternative options along with installation PuPs based on the local circumstances.

Research conducted by

This research was cosponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Army Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management and was conducted by the Strategy, Doctrine, and Resources Program within the RAND Arroyo Center.

This report is part of the RAND research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.