U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Representative Richard Hanna in a letter to U.S. Army Secretary John McHugh underscored their unified support for maintaining and growing the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) in Rome, N.Y., and requested a thorough explanation of any proposals now in formulation that impact the facility.
The Members of Congress emphasize that they are strongly opposed to any changes or efforts to reduce or transfer jobs from DFAS Rome, which provides payment services to the U.S. Department of Defense and employs 957 workers. The Rome facility was established following the significant economic fallout from the 1995 realignment of the former Griffiss Air Force Base, which at its peak was the largest employer in Oneida County.
Two U.S. Army proposals have been obtained and circulated in some local media outlets in Oneida County, and the elected officials took issue with the lack of transparency on the part of the Army to keep community stakeholders apprised of any potential changes. "We are troubled that our offices were not notified of this process and analysis earlier and more directly and are eager to receive more thorough and timely explanations of any nascent proposal -- and to have ample opportunity to influence this process," the letter states.
"The DFAS site in Rome is one of the nation's most productive and efficient, and is crucial to the Mohawk Valley economy: any thought to move it is seriously misguided. Together with Senator Gillibrand and Representative Hanna, I will fight to nip in the bud any proposal to close or shrink DFAS," Senator Schumer said.
"This is clearly a troubling proposal that could jeopardize 1,000 local jobs, and hurt families and businesses," said Senator Gillibrand, an Armed Services Committee member. "The Rome DFAS is highly cost-efficient, and should serve as a model for the military's accounting and financial services. Senator Schumer, Congressman Hanna and I are working together to make sure the Army knows our concerns, and knows full well the value of DFAS and these jobs for the Mohawk Valley."
"Rome DFAS is the best in the business when it comes to paying our troops in a cost-effective and timely manner," Representative Hanna said. "I will not support any efforts to in-source existing functions and create wasteful duplication within the Department of Defense. I expect full transparency and accountability from the Army on its studies that could potentially affect our local workforce. I will continue to work with Senators Schumer and Gillibrand to aggressively push back on any loss of jobs in our community."
The letter is attached and the text is pasted below:
February 4, 2014
The Honorable John M. McHugh
Secretary of the Army
1400 Defense Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20301-1400
Dear Secretary McHugh,
We write to you to request additional information regarding an Army proposal that we understand could lead to a restructuring of the role and responsibility of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). While we understand that this analysis is in the early stages, let us be clear: we strongly oppose any effort to transfer or reduce DFAS jobs in Rome, New York, where these productive and efficient workers are doing an exemplary job -- and are a vital component of the regional economy. Further, we are troubled that our offices were not notified of this process and analysis earlier and more directly, and are eager to receive more thorough and timely explanations of any nascent proposal -- and to have ample opportunity to influence this process.
Following the significant economic fallout from the 1995 realignment of the former Air Force base at Griffiss, we have worked long and hard to develop various functions at this facility including the Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate (Rome Lab), Eastern Air Defense Sector (EADS) and DFAS. Regarding DFAS and its 957 workers, this facility was under consideration for closure during the last BRAC round, but a coalition of elected officials and community leaders made the well-researched case that the DFAS employees were productive, efficient and essential and were doing work that was not redundant with another Department of Defense facility. That same effort and those same arguments hold today.
Specifically, it is our understanding that the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Financial Management and Comptroller (ASA(FM&C)) is developing a proposal that would establish a "hub" structure of internal accounting practices through an Army Financial Management Optimization (AMFO) transition. It is further our understanding that such an initiative could adversely impact the existing workforce and functionality of DFAS by in-sourcing the accounting and financial service operations currently being conducted by DFAS facilities and employees around the country.
As you are aware, DFAS was established in 1991 by then-Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney in order to standardize, consolidate, and improve accounting and financial functions throughout the Department of Defense. As such, the purpose of DFAS is to reduce the cost of the Department's financial and accounting operations while strengthening its financial management, and we have all seen the tremendous work of DFAS, its leadership, and its workforce firsthand at the DFAS facility in Rome, New York. DFAS Rome's employees are responsible for fulfilling accounting operations for our government and the men and women of our armed services -- including the Army -- every day. These dedicated employees play a vital role in our national security structure and are proud to support the men and women who serve us.
More importantly, in these times of fiscal constraint when both Congress and the President and his administration are committed to cost savings, our DFAS facility is able to fulfill all of its functions in a manner that has a proven record of fiscal responsibility and efficiency. As such, we are perplexed to hear that there would be any plans that would disrupt this proficient and well-organized structure and a workforce that is responsible for performing a critical mission in a very cost-effective manner.
Again, we are united in our strong support for the men and women that work on behalf of the Army at DFAS Rome, and will be awaiting further information and full transparency on any plans, task force, or proposals that could lead to the Army moving away from this proven model through in-sourcing or any other directive actions. We would also appreciate an explanation of the rationale behind any such initiatives, a full account of any parties that may be involved in such planning, and additional details on the impacts that any such proposals would have on current DFAS and Army personnel structures.
We look forward to receiving further clarification, and will continue to support the United States Army and DFAS.
CHARLES E. SCHUMER
Kirsten E. Gillibrand