Local Officials Want More Info on BRAC Moves

By Charles S. Clark

Arlington, Va., officials gripe about a lack of scheduling specifics for easing the transition of Defense employees whose jobs are being moved to less-vulnerable sites.

Three local government officials tasked with cushioning the impact of the Pentagon's pending move of 17,000 employees out of Arlington, Va., are not thrilled with the extent of information sharing by those implementing the security-enhancing moves under the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission edict.

At a community debating forum on Feb. 9, Andrea Morris, Arlington's BRAC project coordinator; Sandra Smith, the Arlington BRAC Transition Center's employment specialist; and Adam Beebe, the center's business development manager, were unanimous in tweaking their counterparts in the Defense Department and the General Services Administration for leaving them in the dark on key data.

The type of information coveted by Arlington's BRAC team since its task force began meeting in January 2006 includes such details as the number of employees who are opting to keep their jobs in the departing Army, Air Force and defense intelligence agencies; the timetable for their moves (beyond the official Sept. 15, 2011, deadline); and the fate of the leases in the affected Arlington office buildings.

Treating the BRAC as an "economic emergency," the Arlington officials are offering employment counseling and job placement services as well as working with the county-based contractors, small businesses and vendors whose livelihoods are being put at risk by the specter of empty glass canyons in Arlington's Crystal City commercial district.

The Pentagon's interest, said Smith, is to have as many employees as possible make the move, but "our interest is to tell them, 'You have other options.' "

Asked for a response about the demand for more information, a Defense spokesperson said: "Since the BRAC 2005 decisions were announced, the Department's Office of Economic Adjustment has assisted Arlington County in responding to BRAC impacts from DoD vacating leased space. OEA technical and financial assistance is supporting the Crystal City redevelopment planning effort and Arlington County Economic Development staff, including funding for the BRAC Coordinator and BRAC Assistant positions. The Crystal City redevelopment planning process was completed in fall 2010," the spokesperson said.

"In cooperation with the U.S. Department of Labor," the spokesperson continued, "OEA also assisted Arlington in establishing the Crystal City BRAC Transition Center to ensure a smooth transition for affected workers, businesses, and the community at large. OEA's program of community assistance, as well as the county's ability to respond and address BRAC impacts, relies upon GSA and WHS/Defense Facilities Directorate providing a timetable for DoD's moves from leased space."

A GSA spokesman referred inquiries to the Pentagon.