With No BRAC in Sight, OEA Unneeded, Thornberry Indicates
By Dan Cohen – Association of Defense Communities
In an op-ed published Tuesday in Military Times, House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) explains his proposal to eliminate the Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) as part of an effort to streamline overhead by noting that the Pentagon hasn’t conducted a BRAC round in over a decade. “The Office of Economic Assistance [sic] is charged with helping communities affected by base closures, which hasn’t happened since 2005,” Thornberry writes. He makes no mention of the agency’s multitude of programs aimed at active-base communities or its defense industry adjustment efforts.
“Thirteen years after the last BRAC round, we should ask if OEA has done its work and can be closed,” Thornberry adds.
During a live conversation on Facebook on Tuesday with Citizens Against Government Waste President Tom Schatz, Thornberry said OEA and the six other defense support agencies he proposes eliminating are redundant: “I think most of them are duplicative, they slow down decision-making; and if there are central functions, they can be transferred to other places.”
In the op-ed, he characterizes the seven agencies as “largely analog agencies struggling to operate in a digital world.” The solution is to assign the newly created DOD chief management officer (CMO) direct authority over the fourth estate. “The CMO will be empowered to rationalize redundant functions like logistics, human resources, real estate management and services contracting. The CMO will be asked to reduce the overall size of these functions by 25 percent in two years,” Thornberry states.
His proposal does offer the Pentagon an opportunity to provide input to lawmakers. “To guard against unintended consequences, DOD is given one legislative cycle to come back to Congress and suggest changes,” Thornberry states. He plans to attach his proposal to the fiscal 2019 defense authorization bill, which the Armed Services Committee will mark up May 9.