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Department of Defense Estimates the Annual Cost of Corrosion for its Facilities and Infrastructure

LMI was asked by the Corrosion Prevention and Control Integrated Product Team (CPC IPT) in August 2012 to measure the effect of corrosion on the cost of DoD facilities and infrastructure. Using data from fiscal year (FY) 2011, LMI estimated the annual corrosion-related cost to be $2.992 billion. This total includes corrosion-related maintenance, construction, and research and development (R&D) costs. At $2.3 billion, the maintenance portion is the greatest corrosion cost and represents 14.4 percent of the total maintenance costs for all DoD facilities and infrastructure.

Although data was collected for FY2009–11, LMI based the corrosion-related cost of DoD facilities on FY2011 data, the most recent year for which study data was available. The maintenance costs include all sustainment, restoration, mod-ernization, demolition, working capital fund, and military pay for all family hous-ing and non-family housing facilities.

This review is part of a multiple-year plan to measure the effect of corrosion on DoD weapon systems, facilities, and infrastructure. Table 1 lists previous studies of the cost of corrosion for DoD facilities and infrastructure. Table 2 includes the results of the previous studies of corrosion-related cost for weapon systems across the military services.

Table 1. DoD Facilities & Infrastructure Cost-of-Corrosion Studies ($ in millions)

Table 2. DoD Cost-of-Corrosion Studies to Date and Future Efforts

Corrosion costs and corrosion as a percentage of maintenance for facilities and infrastructure have steadily increased since the initial facilities and infrastructure study, which used FY2005 data. While maintenance costs have risen during this period, the rate for corrosion costs has significantly exceeded the growth in over-all maintenance costs. Comparatively speaking, corrosion costs (at least as a per-centage of maintenance) for DoD facilities and infrastructure are still among the lowest in DoD.

To estimate corrosion’s fiscal effect, we segregated costs by their source and nature using four schema groups: Group 1—maintenance, construction, and R&D costs; Group 2—facility analysis categories; Group 3—environmental severity index; and Group 4—corrective versus preventive costs. The cost estimation method was documented in Proposed Method and Structure for Determining the Cost of Corrosion for the Department of Defense, DoD CPC IPT, August 2004.

We estimated DoD facilities and infrastructure corrosion costs according to the four schema groups for each of 711 facility analysis categories, for a total of more than 467,097 facilities at 737 installations.

As we see in Figure 1, the DoD incurs its highest corrosion-related costs during the performance of facilities and infrastructure maintenance. The corrosion-related maintenance costs are three to four times higher than corrosion costs associated with construction, even though overall construction costs are far higher than maintenance expenditures. There are two main reasons for this: corrosion is rarely identified as a justification for the construction of a new facility; and preventive corrosion measures are among the first considered for elimination if estimated construction costs need to be reduced to obtain project funding.

Figure 1. Cost of Corrosion for DoD Facilities & Infrastructure (FY 2011)

In FY2011, DoD spent almost three times as much on corrective corrosion ($2,209 million) as it did on preventive corrosion ($743 million). This is largely driven by the nature of corrosion-related construction costs—99 percent of which are corrective.

We estimated corrosion-related R&D costs to be $6 million.

Because deferred maintenance is a potential future cost but not a current cost, we did not include it in the study; however, we did observe the effect that deferred maintenance can have in terms of corrosion-related restoration costs and military construction. Corrosion-related costs for military construction have increased significantly since the initial 2006 Facilities and Infrastructure study (from $205 million to $685 million). The majority of this increase is due to the replacement of facilities that have degraded because of corrosion.

Facility and infrastructure types that are large in total size are generally among the greatest contributors to total corrosion costs, but they have a low corrosion cost per unit of measurement, as is evident in Table 3.

Table 3. Top 10 Corrosion Costs by Facility Analysis Category

The top two facility analysis categories by total square footage (8,511 and 7,110) have the lowest corrosion cost per unit of measurement. The three facility analysis categories with the lowest total square footage (2,192, 8,910, and 2,131) have the highest corrosion cost per unit of measurement.

Each year the military services estimate what resources will be required to effectively maintain their facilities and infrastructure. This estimate is based on a combination of factors, including a sustainment cost factor, an area cost factor, and an escalation factor. The area cost factor includes the cost of corrosion for each facilities analysis category, but it does not differentiate among corrosion-related environmental effects. For example, the corrosion costs per square foot included in the area cost factor for a family housing dwelling (facility analysis category 7110) in Hawaii or in Arizona are considered the same. The data from this study can help DoD refine and improve how it estimates maintenance costs for each facility analysis category.


1 Degradation because of corrosion generally increases as humidity and salinity content in the air increase. We developed the environmental severity zones for each installation using 10 years of degradation measurements from metallic coupons placed in differing climatic zones around the world. The study was conducted by Battelle. We used the readings from the study with their permission.




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