Government Reform chairman says base-closing plan could cause brain drain

Senior Virginia lawmakers said Monday that the Pentagon's base realignment and closure process could result in a brain drain from the Defense Department.

"That is something [BRAC commissioners] need to factor in," said Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, during a town hall meeting in Arlington, Va. Last month, Defense Department officials proposed closing 33 major facilities nationwide, realigning 29 others, and closing or realigning hundreds of smaller military locations. The Pentagon recommended moving more than 20,000 employees out of leased office space in northern Virginia-including Arlington.

Those recommendations have gone to the nine-member BRAC commission, and that panel will pass its revised recommendations to President Bush by Sept. 8. The president and Congress are required to accept or reject the closures and realignments in their entirety.

During the town hall meeting, Davis asked Defense workers if they were tied to their jobs or to the area.

"How many of you would be willing to move to Fort Sam Houston, Texas?" Davis asked. No one in the standing-room-only audience raised a hand.

"Redstone Arsenal, Alabama?" he asked. Again, no response.

When the congressman asked about Fort Meade in nearby Maryland, several workers raised their hands.

One audience member, who said he worked in research and development for the Defense Department, told the lawmakers he would leave the civil service before relocating.

"I'll flip burgers in Arlington before I go to Bethesda [Maryland]," he said.

Davis acknowledged, however, that the highly trained Defense workforce in Arlington would most likely not end up in the food service industry. He told the audience that there were already significant temptations to leave the public service for a defense contractor.

"There are a lot of opportunities to make more money, especially if you have a security clearance," Davis said, suggesting that the Pentagon should be aware of the potential pitfalls of the BRAC process.

Davis and Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., lauded the balance and mutual support between the Defense Department and the local community. Both lawmakers appealed to constituents to contact them and voice their opinions on the BRAC process.

Sen. John Warner, R-Va., also attended the town hall meeting but was less strident in his defense of northern Virginia facilities. He acknowledged that Virginia as a whole had fared well in the BRAC recommendations, although some communities stand to be hit hard.

Warner told the crowd that he would fight to ensure that "politics play no role" in the BRAC process.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.