Defense Finance & Accounting Site Closures Under Scrutiny

The Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) voted Tuesday to re-examine the Pentagon’s plan to consolidate 26 Defense Finance and Accounting Sites (DFAS) into only three locations. The commission also added the three DFAS sites in Denver, Indianapolis and Columbus, selected as the locations of the consolidated sites to the list of facilities facing possible closure.

“This is really to assess whether three is the optimal number, and whether these sites are the optimal three sites,” Chairman Anthony Principi to the Federal Times.

The Federal Times reports that several members of the commission questioned whether the Pentagon and Defense Department analysts had thoroughly assessed the impact of the plan and voted 9-0 to consider more scenarios. The Pentagon says the plan will result in savings of $1.3 billion over 20 years according to the Quad Cities Times. Several commissioners indicated they wanted to at least look at keeping more DFAS offices open according to the Federal Times.

“There may be some efficiencies, but the fact is that it’s cheaper to run a DFAS facility in some of these outlying areas. It’s cheaper for rent, it’s cheaper for hiring people,” Commissioner James Bilbray, a former congressman from Nevada told the Quad Cities Times.

In his testimony before the commission, defense undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics Michael Wynne said the accounting and financial functions performed by DFAS facilities should remain within the Department of Defense and the cost-savings represented by consolidation were too good to be ignored according to the Federal Times.

“We want to make sure the best possible closure or realignment choices are made,” the Quad Cities Times quotes Chairman Principi as saying.

The commission will now begin conducting public hearings, make site visits and compare data on sites and facilities performing similar functions and slated for closure. A final series of votes are scheduled for late August. The commission’s recommendations must be delivered to President Bush by September 8.

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