Each year, the U.S. House of Representatives passes legislation to authorize annual funding for U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) programs. This legislation is known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Today, the House passed the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2013. Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT) voted in support of the legislation.
The legislation includes provisions that impact bases and military installations in Utah, including the Ogden Air Logistics Center (ALC). With President Obama singling out the DoD for massive cuts in spending, there is growing pressure from private industry to reduce maintenance workloads traditionally done at military depots, such as Ogden Air Logistics Center. To ensure that the Ogden ALC continues to serve as one of the primary and premier maintenance depots in this country, Congressman Bishop included an amendment that codifies the ongoing role of ALCs with regards to support, maintenance, repair, and refurbishment of equipment for the warfighter, essential weapons systems, and software. Industrial depot capabilities provide effective and efficient maintenance services and ensure military readiness at all times.
"A collaborative approach must be taken as we examine the most effective and efficient maintenance of our military aircraft and other important defense capabilities. It is my goal to demonstrate that it is far more beneficial to work jointly by partnering with the depots than to shift contracts to the private sector without considering the impact that such decisions would have on military readiness. History has shown that utilizing both industry and government depots can often be the best and most efficient scenario with regards to workload and responsible use of taxpayer dollars. I will be working with House and Senate members and their staff to ensure that ALC interests are upheld throughout the legislative process," said Congressman Bishop.
In addition to the amendment offered by Congressman Bishop, the NDAA for FY 2013 includes other provisions important to the state of Utah and its military installations, including:
Section 1077 - Restrictions on Use of Non-Disclosure Agreements: Congressman Bishop assisted in drafting components of this section of the bill in order to place restrictions on the DoD's use of non-disclosure agreements for DoD officers and employees. The language ensures that non-disclosure agreements are used only in necessary circumstances and not abused.
"Under former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the practice of requiring DoD officers and employees to routinely sign non-disclosure agreements proliferated beyond reason and became a mechanism by which the Administration would withhold certain vital information from staff and Members of Congress. While this may have enabled Secretary Gates to unilaterally implement programs with minimal congressional oversight, the negative effect of non-disclosures has been harmful to our open system of government and the relationship between Congress and the executive branch. Passage of Section 1077 will restore a common--sense balance to the use of this practice," said Bishop.
Section 321 - Multi Trades Demonstration Project - This section was included at the request of Congressman Bishop. Specifically, it reauthorizes a pilot program at military depots that allows workers to employ their technical skills beyond their specifically assigned platform.
"This ability for multi--trades workers is a win--win for the taxpayer and the depots. It allows highly trained individuals to employ their skills to benefit more than one production line, avoiding the need to hire and train additional workers. The end result is a more efficient and capable workforce," said Bishop.
Section 2713 --BRAC Prohibition-- This section outlines a prohibition on DoD planning for future rounds of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). The current Administration requested that Congress include in its budget two additional rounds of BRAC, beginning in 2013. This provision states that none of the funds may be used to plan or implement future BRACs at the present time.
"Much uncertainty remains with regards to the needs of future force structure and it is presently difficult to determine what base infrastructure will be necessary beyond 2013. BRACs are not cheap and can cost billions of taxpayer dollars up front. With a current debt of $16 trillion it is unwise and imprudent to conduct a BRAC right now. BRAC is not a panacea for solving defense budget woes. Once defense installations are closed, they're lost forever and their capacity would be costly to reconstitute should it be realized that mistakes were made from hasty BRAC decisions," said Bishop.
Military Construction -- The following were included in the military construction (MILCON) component of the bill:
Funding for new infrastructure to support the F-35 program at Hill Air Force Base (AFB): a modular storage magazine, an F-35 training simulator building, and a new F-35 hangar.
Funding to support the Regional Training Institute, Phase 2 project, and a Bachelor Enlisted Quarters (BEQ) facility at Camp Williams (Utah National Guard).
Funding to support construction of Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cyber Security Initiative (IC CNCI) Data Center at Camp Williams.
Two amendments were offered to the legislation that sought to clarify language regarding the rights of U.S. citizens and detention of those wishing to do harm to the United States and our armed forces. The first amendment was introduced by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and the second by Adam Smith (D-WA) and Justin Amash (R-MI). Congressman Bishop voted in support of both amendments.