LAWMAKERS ASK GAO TO INVESTIGATE UNREALISTIC SOLUTIONS OUTLINED IN PENTAGON REPORT
Washington, D.C. --- U.S. Reps. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Jim Saxton (R-NJ) and U.S. Sens. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) sent a letter today to Government Accountability Office (GAO) Comptroller General David M. Walker asking him to investigate several unrealistic solutions outlined in a U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) report on Fort Monmouth. The GAO has already committed to conducting an audit of the Pentagon report.
In their letter, the New Jersey lawmakers wrote that "we believe that the DOD did not sufficiently outline how this move would take place without disrupting support to troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan." A copy of the letter follows.
January 4, 2008
David M. Walker
Government Accountability Office
441 G St., NW
Washington, DC 20548
Dear Comptroller General Walker,
We are writing today regarding the December 2007 Department of Defense (DOD) report on the movement of functions from Fort Monmouth in New Jersey.
When the BRAC Commission issued its final report in August 2005, it attached a caveat to its recommendation that Fort Monmouth be closed. Specifically, the Commission required that, "the Secretary of Defense shall submit a report to the Congressional Committees of Jurisdiction that movement of organizations, functions or activities from Fort Monmouth to Aberdeen Proving Ground will be accomplished without disruption of their support for the Global War on Terror."
This caveat was the result of a compromise among the BRAC Commissioners after some were unwilling to go along with the Fort Monmouth closure recommendation unless the Pentagon further addressed concerns about the closure's impact on the military's war efforts.
In order to fully understand the reasoning for the inclusion of this caveat in the final 2005 BRAC report, we feel that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) must consult with 2005 BRAC commissioner and former Assistant Secretary of Defense Philip Coyle, who will be able to explain the meaning and rationale for the inclusion of this language.
Furthermore, the GAO must examine whether the DOD fully complied with the law in preparing and issuing this report. We believe that the DOD did not sufficiently outline how this move would take place without disrupting support to troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
While the Pentagon's 15-page report identified problems and risks associated with the move from Fort Monmouth to Aberdeen, it failed to examine the full range of realistic solutions and options for mitigating or eliminating these problems. It also failed to credibly explain how the move will take place without disrupting support for soldiers in the field, which is the main reason the BRAC Commissioners requested the report. Indeed, on page 10 of the report the Army talks about creating a task force "to set the conditions for the successful relocation of CECOM LCMC mission to APG." Clearly, the report delivered to Congress in December 2007 does not represent the Army's final plan for dealing with this crisis. Accordingly, we ask GAO to closely scrutinize the true state of the Army's planning and mitigation strategy.
In this report, the DOD has finally admitted that only 30 percent of the Fort Monmouth workforce will likely move to Aberdeen, that it would take extraordinary measures (including costly personnel incentives and exceptions to hiring and extremely expedited security clearance processing procedures) to attempt to replace the remaining workforce, and that the Army's efforts to date to hire mid- and senior-level talent to cover the expected personnel shortfall have been unsuccessful. Indeed, because of the difficulty in attracting this mid- and senior-level talent, the Army has already resorted to hiring interns or recent college graduates that lack the requisite experience, which leads us to believe that this move cannot be executed without severely affecting the communications and electronics functions necessary to support our soldiers on the battlefield.
Another significant problem referenced in the report is with movement of critical information technology infrastructure which is unique to Fort Monmouth and would be extremely difficult to replicate at Aberdeen. Much of the sophisticated equipment would have to be built in Aberdeen while it is still being used at Fort Monmouth or in some cases literally broken down piece by piece and reconstructed in Maryland. This could result in downtime that risks the availability of equipment and facilities when it is crucial to the support of the Global War on Terror. Given the shortage of available space at Aberdeen we also question the DOD's facility strategy that includes trailers and temporary rental space for such highly technical services.
While the report details the specific risk involved in five critical areas where support for the troops is necessary around the clock (protection, battle awareness, battle command, maneuver support, maneuver sustainment), it does not provide a serious mitigation strategy nor the resources necessary to achieve mitigation. In auditing this report, we ask that GAO examine whether such a complicated, war-time relocation of a C4ISR capability has been successfully executed, and what lessons, if any, the Army and DOD have drawn from that experience.
We believe it is crucially important for the GAO to keep these factors in mind while preparing its audit of the DOD report. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
FRANK PALLONE, JR. FRANK LAUTENBERG
Member of Congress United States Senator
CHRISTOPHER SMITH ROBERT MENENDEZ
Member of Congress United States Senator
RUSH HOLT JIM SAXTON
Member of Congress Member of Congress