In May 2005, the Department of Defense (DoD) initiated the fifth Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round to date. The list recommended to relocation, consolidation and closure of military installations and other Defense-occupied spaces throughout the country. Arlington quickly learned that it would be the most BRAC-affected jurisdiction in the country. No other state, city or county stands to loose as many jobs or leased office space as Arlington.
On November 9, 2005, the President of the United States signed the BRAC Commission's recommendations into law. With this action, 16 DoD agencies and activities were directed to vacate 4.2 million square feet of office space in Arlington. Associated with this space are an estimated 17,000 jobs that will be relocated to military installations. By law, these relocations must occur by September 15, 2011.
What Arlington Did:
Arlington quickly mobilized a bipartisan group of local, state and federal lawmakers to assess the potential damage, and began work to retain as many DoD agencies in Arlington as possible. Virginia Governor Mark Warner, Senator John Warner, Congressman Jim Moran, Congressman Tom Wolf, and Arlington County Board Chairman Jay Fisette joined together in an attempt to retain over 20,000 jobs in Arlington and Alexandria.
Arlingtonians and DoD employees also joined the fight. Town meetings were convened where employees from DoD agencies such as DARPA, the Office of Naval Research, the Missile Defense Agency, DISA and others voiced their concerns about the prospect of moving from Arlington. As one DoD employee stated: "I'd rather flip burgers in Arlington than move."
The Final Outcome:
Following a series of hearings in July and August, Arlington successfully retained the DoD’s Extramural Research Agencies in Arlington, including the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), the Army Research Office (ARO) and the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA)
Now, Arlington has begun addressing the impacts of BRAC including changes to the leased office space market and jobs in Arlington. The County Board appointed a BRAC Transition Task Force to map a way ahead in managing the effects of BRAC 2005. In July 2006, the Arlington BRAC Transition Task Force completed its work and produced 34 strategic recommendations covering areas of impact such as infrastructure, planning and development, business and workforce, and business and tenant incentives. With the Board’s endorsement of the Task Force’s report, Arlington Economic Development (AED) took immediate action to implement the strategic recommendations by preparing a grant request to the Department of Defense, Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) for monitoring and planning assistance.
Arlington is now working with leaders at the local, state and federal levels to help manage the BRAC transition. It convened a BRAC Transition Task Force which studied the effects of BRAC and made recommendations to the Arlington County Board. After successfully applying for federal funding, Arlington opened the BRAC Transition Center at 1750 Crystal Drive in Crystal City to help affected employees and the many small businesses that are dependent upon DoD agencies.