Wright-Pat jobs won't go to Hanscom
Posted: 09/20/2005 by AFIT Public Affairs
ARLINGTON, Va. | Wright-Patterson Air Force Base came out a winner Thursday when the independent Base Realignment and Closure Commission overturned a Pentagon recommendation that base supporters said would have cost the Dayton area 4,500 jobs.
Several commissioners criticized the recommendation, which they said would have lumped dissimilar functions together in the name of consolidation at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts.
Earlier, the commission had voted to leave the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson and to move almost 1,000 other jobs to the base.
The commission voted to strike the recommendation to move the Development and Fielding Systems Group to Hanscom.
"It was just a dumb idea done by people who were trying to do something right, and it didn't work," said Commissioner James T. Hill, a retired Army general.
The commission said the move would have shifted 542 military and 62 civilian jobs from Wright-Patterson to Hanscom. But the Dayton Development Coalition claimed the move would have eliminated more than 4,500 Dayton-area jobs, including contractors.
The Dayton Development Coalition had led a campaign to convince the BRAC commission that DFSG, a group that buys management database systems for the Air Force Materiel Command, wasn't related to the research and development work done at Hanscom.
Coalition President and CEO John P. Nauseef was jubilant. "They listened and they got our argument," he said.
Earlier, the panel unanimously supported a proposal to create a unifying board that will oversee curriculum at the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. Both schools will remain in their current locations, and the move will not cost either region jobs, commissioners said.
The board, which will be based in the Washington, D.C., region and will have equal representation from AFIT and the Naval Postgraduate School, will have the power to eliminate curriculum duplication, enhance cooperative agreements between the schools and eliminate excess capacity. Commission members said it aimed to formalize a 2002 agreement between the two schools to share resources and eliminate duplicative courses.
"This is a key victory for maintaining the teaching and resources of AFIT in the Dayton area," Nauseef said.
AFIT employs about 500 and has about 1,000 students.
The initial Defense Department base closure recommendations did not include the schools, but the commission on July 19 decided to study whether to consolidate or privatize the postgraduate schools, along with the Defense Language Institute in Monterey. The Defense Language Institute was not included in the final recommendation.
"We're taking two great graduate schools and allowing them to kind of get the synergies of being great and share their expertise and hopefully avoid some duplication," said Commissioner Samuel Skinner, who was one of two commissioners to visit AFIT this summer.
The commission also approved a recommendation to move three medical functions from Brooks City Base in San Antonio, Texas, including the Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine and a centrifuge facility for high acceleration training and research. A centrifuge facility at Hollomon Air Force Base in New Mexico will be mothballed and a physiological training unit there move to Wright-Patterson.
The original Defense Department recommendation was to move five functions to Wright-Patterson, but Commissioner Sue Ellen Turner introduced an amendment to send two of the functions — the Naval Health Research Center Electro-Magnetic Energy Detachment and the Human Effectiveness Directorate — to Fort Sam Houston, Texas. There, those missions could continue to work with an Army mission that also worked on directed energy research.
James Leftwich, vice president of Aerospace, Defense and Technology with the Dayton Development Coalition, said Turner's amendment meant 100 fewer jobs than anticipated would move to Wright-Patterson, but said the region would still gain about 900 jobs. "Wright-Patterson will still be the center for aerospace medical research," he said.
The commission on Thursday afternoon also supported a proposal to consolidate civilian personnel offices across the Defense Department, including the office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. But the commission altered the recommendation, relocating only transactional functions from the office and leaving non-transactional functions necessary to support Wright-Patterson at that base.
The original Defense Department recommendation would have sent an estimated 235 jobs from Wright-Patterson's Air Force Civilian Personnel to Randolph Air Force Base in Texas through 2011. It was part of a larger consolidation that also would have moved jobs from Air Force bases in Georgia, Utah, the District of Columbia and Oklahoma to Randolph. Community leaders scrambled Thursday afternoon to determine the impact of the revamped proposal.
The votes will be considered preliminary until the commission concludes its work later this week.
Staff writer Jim Bebbington contributed to this story.
By Jessica Wehrman, Timothy R. Gaffney
Dayton Daily News