BRAC – Many D.C. Area Workers Won’t Move
Defense workers and contractors said yesterday that a Pentagon plan to shift 23,000 military jobs from inside the Capital Beltway would prompt skilled workers to abandon government employment before disrupting their families’ lives.
At a town meeting attended by about 300 people at George Mason University’s law school in Arlington, every person who queued up to speak opposed the provision within the Defense Department’s national streamlining plan, with several saying it would hamper the military’s mission and raise costs by triggering a “brain drain” of employees now working in leased office space in Arlington County and Alexandria near the department’s Pentagon headquarters.
The Pentagon says its plan will save $49 billion nationwide over 20 years. The District, Arlington and Alexandria are set to lose about 30,000 jobs, one of the biggest cuts in the country. However, secure, suburban military bases such as Fort Belvoir in southeast Fairfax County and Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County would gain more than 20,000 workers. Most area jobs appear to be set to move nearby, but some would be relocated as far away as Texas, Alabama and Kentucky.
According to [Rep. Jim] Moran’s office, 32 of 36 military workers who responded to yesterday’s survey, or 89 percent, said they would not move with their agencies.
“My point of view is, hell no, I won’t go,” said Thomas F. Hafer, senior program manager of Science and Technology Associates Inc., whose work defending troops from rocket-propelled grenades is in use in Iraq. “I’ll flip hamburgers in Arlington before I have to commute or relocate over to Bethesda.”
Hillary Morgan, who works for the Defense Information Systems Agency, said the ability of staff members to work with defense and civilian agencies in Washington from a proposed new home at Fort Meade “will decline, because they are going to be out of the office for hours commuting back and forth. The loss of productivity will be tremendous.”
Before moving to the area, I would have gotten a chuckle out of people whining that their job had moved 15-25 miles. In reality, though, that may mean an additional hour or more each way being added to an already long commute. In the old days, that would have simply meant moving to Maryland. But with two career couples being the norm, that simply isn’t a realistic option anymore. I’m currently on contract with DISA, which is slated to move to Fort Meade sometime in the 2009-2010 time frame. With The FiancÃƒ© working in Alexandria and us both living here, that’s literally a bridge too far.
The upside of the D.C. area, though, is that while traffic is horrible the job market is quite robust, especially in the defense and high technology sectors. The likes of Hafer and Morgan have the luxury of being able to find a comparable or even better position at another agency or in the private sector within their comfortable commuting zones.