Officials discuss BRAC's impact on Fort Meade

By Marjorie Censer
Monday, June 28, 2010

The Pentagon's base realignment and closure process -- known as BRAC -- is bringing big changes to Fort Meade, located between Washington and Baltimore.

Last week, Maryland's Federal Facilities Advisory Board, a group of about 20 business, academic and state officials charged with fostering collaboration among state, federal government and private companies, traveled to the base to review plans for establishing the U.S. Cyber Command there and relocating the Defense Information Systems Agency from Arlington.

Here are some excerpts from their discussions:

-- "Truly we are in a transformation mode ... Fort Meade still has the same road network it had when it was formed in 1917. It was trails in[to the base] -- we just sort of put some asphalt on it and there you are. We don't have bike lanes, we don't have sidewalks, we don't have any of those kinds of things ... So we're going to have to think smart about what other options there are for people to access the installation, and we're looking at buses ... [and] we pretty much have an internal shuttle system developed." -- Bert Rice, BRAC project officer at Fort Meade

-- "We're in the process of moving our people up here from Northern Virginia. We expect, based on surveys we've done, to lose as many as 30 percent of that workforce when we move ... We're moving roughly 4,400 people that are either military, civilian or contractors for whom we provide space. There's another 4,000 to 5,000 contractors who directly support our headquarters operation. We have no idea [of] the percentage we're going to lose there, so I would say 30 percent is a minimum in terms of the numbers of positions we expect to lose over this period of time. We're going to have to reconstitute that workforce up here, and we need the technically qualified folks to do that." -- David Bullock, the Defense Information Systems Agency's BRAC executive

-- "Everyone focuses on BRAC because that's the big animal, the 800-pound gorilla ... but growth at Fort Meade is a bigger issue than BRAC ... As we looked at this growth over a five- to seven-year time frame -- let's go out to 2013 -- we saw 5,695 [jobs] from BRAC; we estimated [another] 4,000 [new jobs] at NSA [National Security Agency] ... The magnitude of the growth is what really counts here ... At the beginning, this is going to be a mass assault on the transportation system around Fort Meade." -- Robert C. Leib, the Anne Arundel county executive's special assistant for BRAC and education

-- "We expect this to be a commuting event initially, but we expect that over five years, the 75 percent Virginia, 20 percent Maryland demographics we started with -- we expect that to flip. And we expect at the end of five years, we'd be looking more at 70 [percent] to 75 percent Maryland residents working for the agency and 20 percent still people that live in Virginia ... Over time, contractors tend to move closer to the [agencies] they support ... We would expect the same thing to happen in Maryland ... Columbia looks to me very much the same as Tysons Corner did 20 years ago." -- Bullock

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