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Letter to Raymond Edwin Mabus, Jr. Secretary of the Navy United States


Location: Charleston, WV

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin sent a letter urging the United States Department of the Navy to maintain its presence at the Allegany Ballistics Laboratory (ABL) at Rocket Center, W. Va. The Fiscal Year 2012 Defense Authorization Act requires the Navy to reduce space devoted to its information technology centers. Gov. Tomblin, along with Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, expressed his strong belief that the ABL should not be closed. In fact, both Governors stated Rocket Center is a very attractive option for a consolidated center, one that could create additional jobs.

"The ABL center currently provides hundreds of good-paying jobs, and I want to make sure we don't lose a single one of them," Gov. Tomblin said. "I told the Navy Secretary that the Mountain State offers many advantages, making it an optimal location for a consolidated Navy technology center."

IBM, which runs operations at the center under a federal contract, has made major investments there over the past two years. IBM has won contracts to establish major intelligence, defense, National Archives and Records Administration, and Federal Emergency Management Agency data centers and information management hubs at the Mineral County facility. Gov. Tomblin pledges to work with Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and Secretary of the Navy Raymond Edwin Mabus, Jr. to do everything possible to keep these jobs in our great state.

Text of letter can be found below.

The Honorable Raymond Edwin Mabus, Jr.
Secretary of the Navy
United States Department of the Navy
The Pentagon, Room 4E686
Washington, DC 20350

Dear Secretary Mabus:

We are writing to urge you to use the authority provided by Public Law 112-81, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, to utilize the Allegany Ballistics Laboratory (ABL), which is owned and managed by the U.S. Navy, to consolidate data centers and migrate data needs to cloud computing environments. Our states share the current benefits and workforce of a unique IBM facility at the ABL, located near Cumberland, Maryland, at Rocket Center, West Virginia.

The unique data related services it provides to the Navy and other entities within the Defense Department (DOD) in a secure, state of the art information technology environment has the capacity to meet these new DOD IT requirements at an affordable price with minimal capital investment.

As you know, the ABL is a Naval Industrial Reserve Ordnance Plant (NIROP). Over the last two decades, the Federal Government and the private sector have invested over $500 million on environmental and facilities restoration at ABL. In addition to its role in the National Security industrial base, the Navy also has made a significant investment in information technology (IT) assets at ABL, that enable manufacturing and production operations as well as IT operations.

These information technology assets provide a strategic and operational edge to the war fighter who today operates in a net-centric global environment.

ABL offers a number of key attributes that make it an attractive option for consolidated data center operations, including: a favorable location in relation to Washington, D.C. (2.5 hours driving distance); a significant and active existing Navy presence; a strong data conversion/ digitization skill set; experienced and innovative data center management; disaster recovery and continuity of operations capabilities; strong classified and segregated processing facilities; a robust visualization capability and access to Defense Classified Networks.

ABL exists in a region virtually free of natural and manmade disasters. It has multiple redundant power and telecommunication sources, including top tier data pipelines. It is outside any metropolitan area danger zone, including more than 100 miles from any catastrophic incident that might occur in the Washington Metropolitan region. All these features make the location valuable for high security IT redundancy. In addition, the lower employee costs in this rural location combined with an already trained workforce (many with security clearances) are significant factors in this era of fiscal constraint when workforce retention remains an issue at many locations.

IBM specifically has made a major recent investment at ABL and is planning on expanding its work there based on the potential they see. In the two years since it acquired a presence at ABL, IBM has won contracts for programs of record there to establish major intelligence, Defense (Air Force, Navy and other DOD agencies), National Archives and Records Administration, and Federal Emergency Management Agency data centers and information management hubs. Many other data, software, hardware, and information services contracts are also currently in the IBM pipeline that would utilize the ABL. Since the ABL provides the strengths of a traditional Government Owned, Contractor Operated (GOCO) entity, the Navy is not required to provide any upfront investment there.

The Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act requires that the Navy and other services to: reduce space devoted to IT systems, attendant support technologies, and operations within data centers; reduce the use of all utilities necessary to power and cool IT systems and data centers; increase multi-organizational utilization of data centers, IT systems, and associated resources; reduce investment for capital infrastructure or equipment required to support data centers; reduce the number of commercial and government developed applications running on data servers and within data centers; and reduce the number of government and vendor provided full-time equivalent personnel, and in the cost of labor, associated with the operation of data servers and data centers. We believe that ABL can at a minimum help the Navy decrease data center footprint, reduce capital infrastructure costs, trim personnel needed for data center tasks and certainly reduce the cost of this labor.

We thank you in advance for your consideration of our views. We can provide additional information to your staff and would welcome a chance to meet with you to discuss the suitability of ABL for your data center consolidation needs. We appreciate your consideration of our request and look forward to your thoughts going forward.

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