DISA braces for BRAC and the Beltway

DISA\'s Dave Bullock has done the loops and the laps. He tells us what he\'s found.

By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor

As part of BRAC, the Defense Information Systems Agency is gearing up to move from its current offices in Arlington to Fort Meade in Maryland.

Dave Bullock, an executive with DISA’s Base Realignment and Closure Commission project, has been driving back and forth many times a week to see just how the commute will be for employees who choose not to relocate.

“I found that it’s not as bad as we originally expected,” Bullock told Federal News Radio.

“It takes about 45 minutes to drive the 30 miles between our current location and Ft. Meade and about a half an hour longer on the way back in the evening.”

DISA’s BRAC transition means 4,300 employees from three different Northern Virginia locations will be faced with the decision to move with the agency, make the commute, or leave the agency.

Since, as Bullock notes, it “takes about eight years from hiring a new college graduate employee to a journeyman level to build up the skills and the experience necessary to perform many of the jobs within the agency,” his goal is to “minimize the impact” on the employees.

To Hell No and Back

Not that that’s been easy. Surveys taken of DISA employees in 2005, said Bullock, showed that most of them were very unhappy with the decision to move. Fifty-two percent at that point said, essentially, “hell no, we won’t go,” said Bullock. “Over the past 5 years, we’ve gotten to the point now where that number is down from 50% saying they wouldn’t go and another 20% saying they were undecided to basically about 22% now indicating they’re either undecided or they absolutely will not go.”

While he reminded the Federal Drive this is just survey, clearly the trend is favorable.

Frequently in the Washington area, it’s nearly impossible to convince people that the other side of the Beltway isn’t the other side of the world, but DISA doing what it can to improve the perception.

Getting There

For those who choose to make the commute, Bullock focused on two major options for letting someone else do the driving: buses and pooling.

There’s a MARC train from Union Station, said Bullock, and DISA’s arranging for shuttle buses from the train station in Odenton to the new facility. They’re also “looking at the possibility of shuttle buses from the Greenbelt Metro station and we’re also looking at subscription buses from the Pentagon” and “high concentration points” of DISA employees in Northern Virginia.

Since the new facility is a LEED certified building, it’s required to have parking for car pools and van pools.

Quality of Life

“We also have one of the better programs,” for teleworking said Bullock, “I think probably in the entire federal government. We offer, with supervisory approval, up to three days a week for teleworking. When you combine that with the compressed work schedule option that we have available, it would be possible for an employee, basically out of a 10 day pay period only to have to make the drive three days out of 10.”

The new building at Ft. Meade is about 95% complete, said Bullock. The move starts in January 2011 and is expected to take “six or seven months.”

For now, Bullock said DISA is “very, very positive” about the move.

This story is part of Federal News Radio’s daily DoD Report. For more defense news, click here.

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