BRAC in Maryland: So far, so good

By Max Cacas
FederalNewsRadio

Over the next several years, many feds whose jobs are connected with the military may face disruption in their professional and possibly their personal lives because of one thing: BRAC. The Base Realignment and Closure process will move hundreds of thousands of jobs to different military facilities around the country in the name of efficiency and cost savings. But how are things going in the state of Maryland, which has a number of BRAC projects in the works?

As most everybody knows, the BRAC process began in earnest in 2006 when Congress gave its blessing to the long list of military agencies and installations that would relocate, or be closed, as part of the BRAC processes. One of the most well known in this area, for example, is the move of Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital in Silver Spring to Bethesda Naval Medical Center.

There are also BRAC related moves at the old Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Fort Meade, Fort Detrick and near Andrews Air Force Base.

During a recent roundtable with reporters on Capitol Hill, Maryland Senator Ben Cardin (D.) was asked to size up the progress to date as the agencies prepare to move to his state:

I think we’re on schedule with all of our BRAC construction. I don’t think we need anything more. That might be an overstatement. I was at Aberdeen, I was at Bethesda and they are on schedule and they have the funding they need to meet their target dates, as far as BRAC. They have other requests, but on the BRAC requests, they seem to be on schedule. Now, we also have to get to 2009 and get the 2009 and 2010 appropriations bills through. But as far as 2008-2009 budgets, I think we’re okay.

Sen. Cardin later added that he and his colleague, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D.) have been working to identify funds in other legislation to help local jurisdictions with additions to schools, roads and other infrastructure related to BRAC.

We mentioned Fort Meade in our list of facilities that will be changing and growing as a result of BRAC. There are three Pentagon agencies heading to Fort Meade by 2010:

  • The DOD’s consolidated “Defense Media Activity”, a new office tieing together the public affairs departments of a number of uniformed services and the Pentagon.
  • The co-location of the Defense/Military Adjudication Activities
  • And new headquarters of the Defense Information Systems Agency, or DISA.

Tony Montemarano is Component Acquisition Executive with DISA, and last month, he talked about DISA’s move to Fort Meade before the Industry Advisory Council’s Executive Luncheon:

If you go up to Fort Meade, there are signs all over the place, “future home of DISA.” Any IT disruption of service at Fort Meade is being attributed to DISA. Its a modern facility, the desk layouts are already published, in four buildings.

One of the concerns surrounding DISA’s move to Fort Meade is the fact that many of its present employees live in Northern Virginia, and have a relatively easy commute to DISA’s headquarters in Arlington. Montemarano says they’ve been working on that:

We’re not experiencing an enormous exodus, but we are losing one (person) here, and one there. But we’re also hiring, and we’re bringing in some nice talent, but we’re also losing some talent, and with that, we’re losing corporate memory.

For DISA staff who choose to remain at their Northern Virginia homes, Montemarano says the move to Fort Meade will add approximately one hour each way to their daily commute.

Montemarano adds that with almost two years to go before they move, they are taking steps to try to keep some of their current staff as they prepare to decamp for Maryland.

For example, Montemarano says DISA has begun to phase in teleworking, allowing eligible workers to telework as often as two days every few weeks either from home, or from federal telecommuting centers

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