U.S. Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and U.S. Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Steve Rothman (D-NJ), Albio Sires (D-NJ), and Jon Runyan (R-NJ) released a letter today written to General Services Adminstration (GSA) Acting Administrator Daniel Tangherlini requesting that the GSA halt the proposed downsizing of the GSA Eastern Distribution Center (EDC) in Burlington and conduct a more thorough analysis before moving forward with the plan. The EDC provides supplies to government agencies including for the Department of Defense in support of service members deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The EDC, which employs approximately 300 people, has been targeted for downsizing under supply structure reforms enacted by former GSA Administrator Martha Johnson. Those reforms would cut more than 250 jobs at the facility and dramatically impact small businesses locally and throughout the state.
In the letter, the officials asked that the agency "complete a comprehensive analysis of any proposed change before considering whether to proceed with any further plans that would change the current business plan, operations or employee staffing," and "consider reassessing its strategy for the facility and establish alternative plans that seek to minimize job loss and negative impacts to small business."
In addition to the proposed downsizing, structural reforms would also negatively impact the local economy by eliminating key EDC products on which small businesses, including several Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses, rely. A 2009 Government Accountability Office report referenced in the legislators' letter concluded that reforms "would likely decrease the number of small businesses selling office supplies." The GSA previously attempted to close the EDC in 1999, but, following concerns raised by employees at the facility, the downsizing was cancelled.