Lawmakers argue plans to consolidate facilities
A Pentagon proposal would cut more than 1,000 jobs in Cleveland.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Lawmakers trying to beat back military job cuts in their districts argued Thursday that the Pentagon has failed to count the full cost of removing financial work from Ohio, New York and other areas.
Three Ohio lawmakers, Republican Steve LaTourette and Democrats Dennis Kucinich and Stephanie Tubbs Jones, and Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, D-N.Y., are trying to fight a proposal to consolidate military accounting work by closing offices in their districts.
The Base Realignment and Closure recommendations provided by the Pentagon last month are now being considered by a BRAC commission, which will offer its recommendations to President Bush in September.
The Pentagon wants to consolidate offices of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. The current proposal is to close more than 20 facilities around the country, including the DFAS offices in Cleveland and Rome, N.Y.
The closures would mean the loss of more than 1,000 jobs in Cleveland and 290 in Rome, though Boehlert said Thursday the actual loss would be 392, because the facility has added positions in recent years.
The Department of Defense wants to combine all the DFAS payroll and accounting work in three cities: Indianapolis, Denver and Columbus.
The lawmakers argued the Pentagon has underestimated the actual costs of such a shift.
Indianapolis could gain as much as 3,500 new jobs, but LaTourette said the building there only has 99,000 additional square feet, not nearly enough space for the extra workers.
The lawmakers argued the government would have to buy more space, which would make the Indianapolis move far more pricey than the current $2.8 million estimate.
"We've got the Pentagon playing musical chairs, not just with the jobs at DFAS, but with the lives of the people that work there," Kucinich said.
"It was an incomplete analysis," Boehlert said, adding that getting military officials to offer supporting data and information "is sometimes like pulling teeth."
While the lawmakers were quick to criticize the Pentagon, the battlefield over base closings has shifted to the nine-member commission as it holds hearings around the country before making recommendations to the White House.
Retired Gen. Lloyd Newton, a member of the commission, will visit Rome on June 22, and a regional BRAC hearing of the commission will be held five days later in Buffalo, near the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, which is scheduled for closure.