The co-founder of AOL and longtime resident of the Washington region shares his vision for the future of tech.
Our series on military base realignment and closure (BRAC) in the Washington region continues with a look at one of so-called ‘winners’ of the process: Maryland. We explore how expansion at Bethesda’s National Naval Medical Center and Fort Meade will boost the state’s economy, even though it may create headaches for local residents.
- Phil Alperson Montgomery County BRAC Coordinator in the office of the County Executive
- Robert Leib Anne Arundel County Executive’s Special Assistant for BRAC
- Colonel Daniel Thomas Fort George G. Meade Installation Commander
- Anthony G. Brown Lieutenant Governor of Maryland and Chairman of the Governor’s Subcabinet on Base Realignment and Closure.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. As the September deadline approaches for certain military bases to close or to relocate, workers are in motion and offices are in flux around the Washington region. Some communities are bemoaning their losses while others are celebrating their good fortune.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIIn the current base realignment and closure shuffle, the state of Maryland seems to be a winner. It's gaining thousands of new military jobs that will, in turn, generate tens of thousands of other contractor and support jobs. Fort Meade is gaining three military agencies that employ well-paid, highly skilled civilians. And Bethesda is getting an expanded state-of-the-art hospital for wounded warriors from the Army, Navy and Air Force.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIBut not everyone is happy about the growth. Some residents fear worsening traffic jams as more people spill in -- spill on to existing roads to get to work. And while the statewide employment picture may be rosy, some local businesses say the bounty won't trickle down to them. In the second installment of our series on base realignment and closure, we explore how BRAC is changing employment, commuting and everyday life in Maryland.
MR. KOJO NNAMDIAnd joining us in studio is Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown. He is chairman of the Governor's Subcabinet on Base Realignment and Closure. Lt. Gov., good to have you in studio.
LT. GOV. ANTHONY G. BROWNIt's great to be with you, Kojo. This is my first time in studio, or even on air, either way with you. So it's great to be here (unintelligible).
NNAMDIHopefully, it won't be your last.
NNAMDIIn terms of job creation, Maryland seems to have hit the jackpot in the base realignment and closure process. BRAC is expected to generate some 60,000 new jobs across the state. What kinds of job are they? And where will they be located?
BROWNSure. Let me start by saying that Maryland, we certainly don't bemoan the BRAC process and the outcomes. I think there are states that have lost jobs because of BRAC, and they may bemoan that. There may be some states who are actually gaining BRAC jobs that are bemoaning that as well. And a lot of that comes down to whether or not a state is prepared to absorb this influx of families that come along with the fantastic jobs that we call BRAC.
BROWNWe're very excited about the base realignment and closure in Maryland. From day one, Gov. O'Malley and I have stated that this is Maryland's responsibility to the national defense and homeland security as we support these very, very important DOD activities that are coming to four installations in Maryland. We've got Aberdeen, which you identified already, Fort Meade.
BROWNWe also have Bethesda, the National Military Medical Center at Bethesda. We have joint base Andrews -- and, actually, I said four. I misspoke. It's five. We've got Fort Detrick as well. So the total number of jobs coming to Maryland are close to 20,000 when it comes to direct jobs, DOD civilian and military jobs.
BROWNAnd then when you factor in the indirect jobs, which are defense contracting, primarily, we're upwards of 45,000 to 60,000 jobs in Maryland. So that's fulfilling our responsibility to the national defense, hosting and supporting that growth. And with that comes a number of challenges as well as opportunities.
NNAMDIOf course, this is particularly significant for you because Lt. Gov. Brown, you should know, is the nation's highest rank elected official to serve a tour of duty in Iraq. He took a leave from the Maryland House of Delegates back in 2004 when he was deployed to Iraq as a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He joins us in studio.
NNAMDIWhat's significant for Maryland is that the majority of these new jobs are civilian positions, not military ones. How is BRAC helping to fuel Maryland's rise as a hub of cyber and intelligence jobs?
BROWNSure. And that is an important distinction because with these civilian jobs -- and, as I mentioned, upwards of 28,000 families moving to Maryland -- they're permanent jobs. These are not jobs or workers in transition. It's not military units coming and going. It's families and civilian jobs that, if we do it right, will be here for quite some time. A few things that we know -- we have done a conservative analysis.
BROWNAnd we believe that, with the BRAC growth, it will benefit Maryland state by an additional -- almost $500 million in tax revenues. These are tax revenues that are generated from high-paying jobs associated with BRAC, jobs in information technology, in cyber security, jobs in defense communications, research and development, as well as health fields, life sciences, particularly at Fort Detrick.
BROWNSo these are high paying jobs, require high skills, which requires us in Maryland to be sure that we are preparing the workforce to fill these jobs because, if we don't, then, in subsequent rounds of BRAC, we could stand to lose them. And that's certainly not our aim or our goal.
NNAMDIIf you'd like to join this conversation, you can call us at 800-433-8850. Are you someone who hopes to take advantage of the new job opportunities and information and intelligence that the expansion of Fort Meade is creating? How do you plan to capitalize on those opportunities? Call us at 800-433-8850. Or go to our website where you can join the conversation, kojoshow.org, or send us a tweet, @kojoshow, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
NNAMDIAs chairman of the government -- the Governor's Subcabinet on Base Realignment and Closure, you've been working with state and local agencies to make infrastructure improvements to help Maryland communities affected by the base realignments. How much money is the State of Maryland spending on transportation, education and other improvements connected to BRAC?
BROWNKojo, I have the honor to chair Gov. O'Malley's Subcabinet on Base Realignment and Closure, and we created that subcabinet in 2007 for a number of reasons. One is we really wanted to formalize our coordination efforts between federal, state and local government, as well as our coordination with the private sector.
BROWNThe other thing we want to do, which was important, was to send a strong signal to Marylanders that their government is focused on BRAC. We're going to make the necessary investments both in the physical infrastructure and the human capital. So, having said that, what's the bottom line?
BROWNAbout $3.5 billion of state expenditures over the last four years have gone into base realignment and closures. Some of that is capital, like new schools, transportation infrastructure. And some of that is programmatic, such as course -- new course offerings at our community colleges, new programs for science, technology, engineering and math in our middle schools and high schools.
BROWNAnd as we look at that $3.5 billion, it breaks out evenly about, approximately, you know, 25 percent each for transportation, for water and sewer treatment plants and upgrades, for higher education and for K-12 education.
NNAMDIYou have a high-low investment strategy for BRAC-related transportation projects. Exactly what does that mean?
BROWNSo what that means is we recognize that our needs are not matched with our resources. Or, said another way, we just don't have the funds right now to make all of the investments that we need in our transportation infrastructure, whether that's roads, whether it's mass transit.
BROWNSo what we needed to do was to identify those projects that in the short term with existing resources we could fund, and in the long term, the bigger projects, we could begin doing the design and the necessary foundational work so that as more and more resources become available, we can make those larger investments. And I can give you some examples if you want to dive into, for example, Bethesda Naval Medical.
BROWNSo we know that there is approximately $105 million worth of projects that are needed to support the transportation infrastructure around Bethesda Naval. Now, a lot of that is already generated by existing volume on our roads today. But there'll be additional volume with Walter Reed moving to Bethesda. We don't have $104, $105 million today, but what we have is about $35 to $40 million.
BROWNSo using the high-low approach, we identified -- what are things that we can do with $30 to $40 million? And we looked at things like pedestrian and bicycle paths to encourage people to get out of their cars and walk or cycle to work. We've done transportation...
NNAMDIYou've got something called a Guaranteed Ride Home Program.
BROWNThat's a good one. That's another one of our...
BROWNThat's another one of our lows in the high-low. Basically, to encourage people to commute, often, there are -- someone might be fearful that, well, if I commute in with Kojo to work, but he's got to leave early, what does that mean for me when I need to get home?
NNAMDIAm I stuck?
BROWNAm I stuck? Or what happens if I have to leave early? So in the Guaranteed Ride Home Program, if you're commuting and you're in this program, if you either have to leave later than your commuting partner or earlier for maybe family reasons or any other reason, you have a guaranteed paid-for taxi ride home.
NNAMDIAll right. Got to get to the telephones. Time to slip your headphones on. You've already survived the sinking chair trap that we set for our elected officials here. Here is Corey in Burtonsville, Md. Corey, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
COREYYeah, I just wondered, you said several times about the influx of families that are going to be coming in. And I'm just wondering if, actually, anybody in Maryland who lives here already and needs the job is going to actually be employed.
BROWNCorey, thank you for the question, and it depends on which growth institution or installation we're talking about. For example, the move, the consolidation of Walter Reed to Bethesda Naval, will probably not generate a lot of new jobs for Marylanders because we're really talking about moving jobs about four or five miles.
BROWNSo we anticipate that the incumbent workers, nearly 100 percent -- and you put aside for men at retirements and things like that. Nearly 100 percent will probably come with the job. However, let's look at Aberdeen Proving Ground which is in Northeast Maryland. Those jobs are coming to Maryland from Fort Monmouth, N.J. Four years ago, we anticipated about 25 percent of the incumbent workers coming with the job.
BROWNToday, based on surveys of employees, workers at Fort Monmouth, we're anticipating about 50 percent of those jobs coming. So what does that mean? About 9,000 direct jobs are coming from Fort Monmouth to Aberdeen, 50 percent of those will be filled by Marylanders. So we're talking about roughly 45,000 -- oh, I'm sorry-- 4,500 direct jobs for Marylanders.
NNAMDICorey, thank you very much for your call. We move on to Desmond who is on I-66 in Virginia. Desmond, your turn.
DESMONDI'm calling in reference to the new buildings that are being built and expanded to accommodate BRAC. Are they planning on any kind of solar, either for electricity or for heating? And I'll take my answer off the air.
NNAMDIAny plans for solar in any of the new buildings?
BROWNSure. There is certainly an emphasis in Maryland on LEED-certified buildings, and these are buildings that have all of the best practices for environmental friendliness and energy conservation. Buildings that are constructed in the state capital program are required to have certain LEED standards.
BROWNNow, I'm not certain -- and there will be other panelists later today from the federal government that can speak specifically about those requirements for federal construction -- but having visited many of them, I can tell you that most, if not all, are embracing the latest techniques in environmental-friendly construction and energy -- low energy use.
NNAMDIMr. Lt. Gov. of Maryland dodged basic -- dodged major base closures and the current round of BRAC changes. But, it's my understanding, there could be another BRAC round as early as 2012, or 2012 after the next presidential election. Are you taking any proactive, preventive steps to make sure Maryland installations don't end up on the chopping block the next time around?
BROWNKojo, I think the best defense is a good offense. And many of us that were working on BRAC in 2005, we actually anticipated that we might lose some BRAC jobs, and we ended up gaining. So you never know. But what I mean by the best defense is a good offense is Maryland needs to demonstrate that. One, it's got a competitive, highly skilled workforce -- and we do -- and that we'll continue investing in that workforce.
BROWNNumber two is that we've got the infrastructure supports for these federal facilities. And where we don't, we've made commitments to providing them. And that's what we're doing. So if you can demonstrate in investment in human capital and physical infrastructure, as we have, then in subsequent rounds of BRAC, we will continue to be an attractive state.
NNAMDIMaryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown is chairman of the Governor's Subcabinet on Base Realignment and Closure. Thank you for this initial visit with us. You might take the opportunity to announce your candidacy for something in 2014.
BROWNWell, you know, Kojo, one of the lessons I learned growing up is, when you focus on the work in front you and you do your very best, that opportunities will open up. And I do believe that my term in office as lieutenant governor, when that's over, will not be the end of my public service or my service to the people of Maryland.
NNAMDIThat's it. He's running for governor in 2014.
NNAMDI(unintelligible) Well, thank you so much for joining us.
NNAMDIWe're going to take a break. When we come back, we will continue this conversation on BRAC in Maryland. If you'd like to know more about all things BRAC, you can visit our website, kojoshow.org, and link -- click on BRAC, and you will see WAMU's complete BRAC coverage there. You will find links to our BRAC series, all of the WAMU newsrooms' BRAC reports, and the map of the projects under way in our area.
NNAMDIEach Monday in June, we're talking BRAC. Changes in the works for six years are underway with military members and civilian Department of Defense workers on the move. So go to our website for more information. As I said, we will be taking a short break. When we come back, more of this conversation. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back to our conversation on BRAC. And we'll take your calls at 800-433-8850. Do you live near a site that will either gain or lose workers as a result of BRAC? How will that affect your commute? And how will it affect your community? Call us, 800-433-8850, or go to our website, kojoshow.org. Join the conversations there. Joining us in studio now is Col. Daniel Thomas, installation commander at Fort Meade. Col. Thomas, thank you for joining us.
COL. DANIEL THOMASThanks for having me.
NNAMDIAlso with us is Bob Leib. He is the Anne Arundel County executive's special assistance for -- assistant for BRAC. Bob Leib, thank you for joining us.
MR. ROBERT LEIBThank you.
NNAMDIAlso with us is Phil Alperson, the Montgomery County BRAC coordinator in the Office of County Executive. Phil, thank you for joining us.
MR. PHIL ALPERSONThanks for having me.
NNAMDICol. Thomas, Fort Meade located halfway between Baltimore and Washington is the biggest employer in Maryland and still growing. By this fall, some 48,000 military, civilian and contractor employees will be working there. That's up 13,000 from only three years ago. Tell us exactly what goes on at Fort Meade.
THOMASThat's an interesting, loaded question because, as you know, we are the pre-eminent center for information intelligence. So a lot of things that go on we can't directly talk about, so...
NNAMDIThat's why I asked.
THOMAS...I like the question. But as you know, primarily, the National Security Agency is probably the largest tenant command that we have on there. But there's a lot of others. We have a lot of commands that are called INSCOM commands, Intelligence and Security Commands, and they're different intelligence kind, like human intelligence or signals intelligence. We also have a variety of intelligence commands with either the Navy or Marine Corps or Air Force.
THOMASWe also have some other agencies, such as Asymmetric Warfare Group, which is a non-intelligence-related command. We have a command called DINFOS, Defense Information School.
NNAMDI(word?) -- oh, school.
THOMASAnd what they do is they train all our people that go into media. So we have a lot of these different agencies out there. And that's why we have over 90 what we call tenant population, so 90 different commands or agencies on Fort Meade.
NNAMDIThe biggest known tenant, at least according to my understanding, with more than 4,000 employees is the Defense Information Systems Agency. What does that agency do?
NNAMDIAnd how will its relocation to Fort Meade impact the base and the community?
THOMASWell, that's a big one. DINFOS -- or DISA, that is. I'm sorry. I get those two confused.
NNAMDIWe live in the acronym capital of Earth.
THOMASYes, we do. So what this does is it takes care of all the IT concerns for the Department of Defense. So what they do is assistance protection and provision for the IT for our nation's defense. And...
NNAMDIBob Leib -- oh, go ahead.
THOMASAnd I did want to mention...
THOMAS...one other thing. You know, I slipped this up because it's coming to Fort Meade...
THOMAS...and that is the Cyber. And Cyber is a huge entity that -- much of it is already on Fort Meade, but a lot more is coming. So that's additional population that's going to be coming to Fort Meade.
NNAMDIBob Leib, BRAC is adding thousands of new workers to Fort Meade. But the impact on the surrounding community is intensified by the private contractors that set up shop nearby. How many companies are located within a stone's throw of Fort Meade? And how many more are you expecting to arrive?
LEIBWell, there are hundreds located within a stone's throw of Fort Meade. Since BRAC was announced, 29 new defense agency-type contractors have established headquarters within five miles of Fort Meade. And another 49 have expanded their presence there. And we've seen the defense community outside Fort Meade add around 3,500 jobs just since 2009. So, you know, the impact is quite large, and it's adding to our social fabric every day.
NNAMDIIt's my understanding that contractor expansion and arrival is expected to produce as many as 10,000 new jobs there.
LEIBYes, it is. And we're on our way with that 3,500 to seeing that occur. As a matter of fact, the secretary of the Army and the Environmental Impact Statement for the BRAC and EUL at Fort Meade -- that's, you know, he came up with the 10,000 expected defense contractor jobs. So we're not going to, you know, contradict him at this point. But it looks like -- you add to that, at Fort Meade, the realization that BRAC is just a piece of the growth.
LEIBAnd as Col. Thomas indicated, U.S. Cyber Command is now headquartered at Fort Meade. And that is something that we on the outside, we know it has some shape, but we don't know the exact size yet. And then, additionally, the National Security Agency, they're going to begin an expansion, perhaps as early as 2012, which will bring in another 6,500 or so employees by 2015. So we see growth as something that's part of our present as well as our future, probably out until 2020.
NNAMDIDo you live near Fort Meade? Call us, 800-433-8850. Have you noticed any change yet in traffic volume as the new agencies there have ramped up? 800-433-8850. So just send us a tweet, @kojoshow.
NNAMDIPhil Alperson, what are the BRAC-related job numbers in Bethesda? The Walter Reed Army Hospital is closing its campus here in Northwest, D.C., and essentially merging with the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda to form the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Between health care workers, patients and their families, how many people will be working in Bethesda or coming there for care?
ALPERSONThat's right. The Walter Reed Army Medical Center will be closing. Most of its functions will relocate to Bethesda. It will consolidate with Bethesda Naval Hospital.
NNAMDILeaving my neighborhood and coming to yours.
ALPERSONYeah, that's right. There's -- right now, there are about 8,000 personnel at the Bethesda campus. That's going to increase by about a third to about 10,500. Also, the hospital itself, the visits to the campus will double from about 500,000 visits a year to about a million a year. The big difference for us, compared to Fort Meade and some of the other BRACs, is that our relocation is just happening about 5 miles down the road.
ALPERSONWalter Reed is just very close by, so most of the personnel who are transferring to Bethesda are not moving to Bethesda. They live where they're going to live. So we're not getting the influx of families. We're not getting the economic development that sometimes accompanies BRACs, like at Fort Meade. But we are getting new commutes and new traffic, having -- and that's a problem for Montgomery County.
ALPERSONAnd we're trying to deal with that, but, having said that, we're proud to be the home of the new world-class Walter Reed Hospital. And this is going to be the world-class facility treating our wounded warriors. And we're proud to have that. We're proud to be a part of that process. And it also validates the talent that Montgomery County has in the biomedical field.
ALPERSONBut in dealing with the impacts of these new commutes and 2,500 more personnel commuting to the campus and all the many thousands of visitors coming to the campus, we've developed a number of transportation programs to address and to mitigate the -- this influx. The hard part, of course, is that the county budgets and the state budgets are -- just don't have the funds there, as lieutenant governor referred to earlier.
ALPERSONBut due to some outstanding efforts by our congressional delegation, specifically Congressman Van Hollen and Senators Mikulski and Cardin, we were able to get a very substantial appropriation of federal funds that will be used to construct these transportation projects that we have in mind, short-term projects dealing with improving intersections just to prevent gridlock from just absolutely freezing up access to the medical center campus, and also improving access to our Metro station, which is going to be a major enhancement and a major improvement to the transportation infrastructure there.
NNAMDIAs some people would say, nevertheless and in spite of, there is this. Here is Scott in Washington, D.C. Scott, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
SCOTTYes, hi. I work part-time at the Bethesda Hospital now. And I can say that there's been quite a bit of anxiety among the workers up there as far as not knowing what's going on. You know, what's the master plan? And it seems like every day you show up, there's a different gate closed or there's one that's opened. And you just really never know what's going on.
SCOTTAnd I think it would help a tremendous amount if someone actually put out a master plan saying, yes, we're going to put a foot bridge from the Metro. Or, yes, you know, we're going to have this many lanes going in and out. Because as it is now, my heart rate goes up every time I have to go up there 'cause it's just such a nightmare as far as the traffic goes.
NNAMDIWell, one of the reasons we had Phil Alperson here today, Scott, is so he could help to bring your heart rate down.
ALPERSONI will try my...
NNAMDIHe may not be a medical doctor, but he may have information that could be useful to you.
ALPERSONYes. Well, right now, while construction is underway, it obviously is a headache. And while construction is underway, it will be a headache. Actually, Montgomery County does have a website. You can Google it, Montgomery County BRAC. You'll find our website, and it does detail all the projects that are in motion now. The Navy is making changes to all five of its gates.
ALPERSONAnd when those changes are complete, it should allow easier access in and easier exits out of the campus at the end of the day. But in -- as these projects are underway, yes, it will be a headache as any construction project will be. And when the Metro access project -- when that is underway, in terms of construction, yes, it will be a headache. But when that project is completed, it will be a major gridlock relief because with BRAC, you would have 7,000 pedestrian crossings between the Metro station and the Navy campus.
ALPERSONWithout our project, you'd have 7,000 pedestrian crossings. And with our project, we hope to eliminate almost all of them, so there won't be conflicts between cars and people. So, you know, people are just going to have to be patient. People who live in the surrounding community are going to have to deal with these construction changes, too. And I do want to give a lot of credit to the neighboring community.
ALPERSONThey've been very involved in this project. They're very engaged. And they've worked with Montgomery County and the Maryland State Departments of Transportation and other agencies that are involved with this. So, you know, we're all going to have to bear with this. And when the projects are done, it will -- it won't be perfect. We're not going to turn Rockville Pike into a freeway by any means.
ALPERSONBut we do need to prevent untenable gridlock from happening, and I think we will.
NNAMDIScott, how is your heart rate now?
SCOTTIt's a little lower.
SCOTTI appreciate that. Thanks a lot, Kojo.
NNAMDIThank you so much for your call. Col. Thomas, the other two big tenants moving to Fort Meade are the agency that handles media designed for the military, like Stars and Stripes newspaper and Soldiers Magazine, and the agency that decides who gets a security clearance. Why is Fort Meade a good location for them? And how many people will they be bringing on board?
THOMASWell, let me start off with the media command. That's kind of the first time they're doing that. Typically, each service has their own command. They're consoling (sic) it into -- under one umbrella now, so it's a good move. But why? It's an interesting location. As a matter of fact, the location of the building itself they'll be going into is -- the school that trains all those media people for the Department of Defense is actually on Fort Meade.
THOMASSo, now, their headquarters that runs it is right across the street. So, in many ways, it's a very logical extension to put it there. The other one, as far as the adjudicators, a good chunk of adjudicators is the Army. And that's already located on Fort Meade. So by putting it at Fort Meade, really, you're moving what's called CCF over, which is the army piece, and then having all the others in there.
THOMASAnd that's also a very interesting move as well because there's over 10 of these different agencies moving in there. And each one are separate and work separately, but do pretty much the same kind of thing. This will be the first time they're all consolidated under one -- in one building as well. And, hopefully, there'll be some efficiencies found in how the Department of Defense goes about doing the adjudication process.
NNAMDIBob Leib, this email we got from Tara in Arnold, Md. Terra says, "One thing no one ever mentions is that for most of the IT and cyber security jobs, a full-scope polygraph is required. When I got laid off last June, I thought, for sure, I'd be able to take advantage of BRAC. It turns out that, because of a family problem, I can't pass one of the questions on the lifestyle section of the polygraph."
NNAMDI"Living in Anne Arundel County, Fort Meade and the National Security Agency are the only games in town. And they all want full-scope polygraphs. It was eight months before I found employment that did not require a full-scope polygraph. It required taking a pay cut and increasing my commute by a factor of six. So BRAC is not a boom for everyone." What can you say to people like Terra?
LEIBIf you look at the job base coming to Fort Meade, there's going to be a good proportion of it that's going to require a security clearance. In fact, I would say, in the 90 percentile will require security clearance. However, those requiring your full lifestyle poly are going to be in the minority. If we take DISA, for example, as the prime largest BRAC relocation, they're like a Fortune 500 company.
THOMASThey have jobs from the HVAC repairman, to a computer repairman, to a human resource specialist, to a logistician, to a budget analyst, all the way up to those that would require, you know, advance degrees in computer technology, engineering of many, many types. So that spectrum is there. And security clearances are an interesting, you know, challenge for folks sometimes because we're exposed to so many different temptations than when you and I were young Kojo, that is -- makes it very easy to stumble every now and then.
NNAMDII don't remember that far back.
LEIBBut I believe the BRAC positions that are available still present a tremendous opportunity for those not only in Anne Arundel County, but in the entire region. And, in fact, in my opinion, that's where the real opportunity is of the Base Realignment and Closure and the DOD additions to this area, is that the types of jobs coming there are family-supporting jobs. They are not going to be outsourced somewhere else in the world.
LEIBThey're going to strengthen the social and economic fabrics of our communities. And we owe it to our citizenry in the region and in the county to ensure they're as well prepared as possible, as lieutenant governor indicated, through science, technology, engineering and math and cyber security programs.
LEIBIn Anne Arundel alone, the county has invested over $5 million in our community college to ensure that we have the type of coursework that allows our students to not only go K-12 in a STEM concentration, but continue that into the community college, go to the higher education center out at Arundel Mills campus of the community college, transfer their work to a four-year degree program from Frostburg or University of Maryland.
LEIBAnd they can acquire their credentials in cyber or STEM or engineering without ever leaving the Anne Arundel County. And the better we can do that job and make our citizens qualified and competitive for these jobs, the better it is for the whole fabric of our community.
NNAMDIIn case you're just joining us, each Monday in June, we're talking BRAC, the base realignment and closure. Changes in the works for six years are underway with military members and civilian Department of Defense workers on the move. If you'd like to know more about all things BRAC, you can visit our website and click on BRAC to see the complete BRAC coverage here at WAMU.
NNAMDIBack to the telephones. Here's Tatiana in Ellicott City, Md. Tatiana, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
TATIANAHi. Thanks for taking my call. My question was about whether or not the military is considering encouraging a telework policy for any of the hospital staff for days or -- for days that they don't have direct patient care responsibilities or for staff who have no direct patient care responsibility in view of all the concerns about traffic congestion, and if that's not being considered, why not? And I'll take my...
NNAMDIWell, let's get that both from Phil Alperson and then Bob Leib. First, you, Phil Alperson.
ALPERSONOkay. First of all, I have to clarify that I work for Montgomery County. I don't work for the military installation. But I do know that the officials at Bethesda Naval are encouraging all manner of alternative commutes. Telecommuting is one where possible -- I don't know the details of that. You can go to Naval Support Activity Bethesda's website, and they do have update on their alternative arrangements.
ALPERSONBut they are doing whatever they can to help workers expedite their commute there. I know their parking will be a lot less available right now. They have basically one parking space for every two personnel at the campus. That's going to go up to one space to every four people at the campus. So they are looking for any way possible people can get to work. And telecommuting would be a part of that.
NNAMDIBob Leib, also?
LEIBThanks for this question because it really points up something that -- as -- we focused on, beginning two years ago in the Fort Meade region. And Col. Thomas has been a very active participant throughout. And following up on lieutenant governor's remarks about the scarce resources that are available to address the capital aspects of road capacity, et cetera, we realized early on that we didn't have the resources to build the new roads we needed to build for traffic volume.
LEIBSo what can you do? You can try and get that traffic off your roads. And so we concentrated on transportation demand management. In fact, the lieutenant governor, Col. Thomas and myself, as well as all the partners of Fort Meade, just about a year ago, we signed a memorandum of understanding between all the active partners to address transportation demand management principles in order -- as a way to reduce traffic in the Fort Meade region, of which teleworking is a major component.
LEIBIn fact, the Defense Information Systems Agency, who's coming to Fort Meade, has won federal awards for their teleworking process. But at Fort Meade, you're going to somewhere in central Maryland where the habit has been, for generations, to get in your car, and you drive to work.
LEIBWell, with 35,000 vehicles today coming in and out of Fort Meade as we sit here, by all this -- with all this growth, with 26,000 new direct jobs at Fort Meade, by 2015, whatever we can do to try and reduce those number of vehicles on the road is going to go a long way. And, in fact, the results, at this point in time, are very encouraging. We have two to three subscription buses running all the way from Potomac Mills in Virginia to Fort Meade, bringing DISA employees.
LEIBWe have nine to 12 van pools of DISA employees. Col. Thomas, just in March, signed out a memorandum to his tenant commands, letting them know how important this transportation demand management -- car pool, van pool, MARC, teleworking, all these things -- would be to relieve the pressure on the transportation infrastructure around the fort. So, together, we're making some progress there.
THOMASYeah, Bob already mentioned, you know, the push that we had on teleworking. And let me caveat one thing with it. There is a pretty major complication from the security aspect. And that is teleworking gets a little bit tougher when you're starting to deal with secret and top secret information, but, that being said, we have had a tremendous push on teleworking. And Bob said DISA is way ahead of the game in using teleworking for their workforce.
THOMASBut we have some others. For instance, with the adjudications we mentioned, they -- adjudicators also have a very aggressive telework program. And, in fact, it works beyond just the traffic congestion. For instance, you know, everybody, I think, recalls the snowmageddon we had. The adjudicators didn't fall behind as much because they were able to do much of the work still because of telework.
THOMASThey were able to do it from home and not have to come in to work. So our commands are not only dedicated doing this because of traffic, but for other reasons as well. So that is a -- we are really putting the emphasis on telework where we can.
NNAMDIGot to take a short break. When we come back, we'll continue our conversation we're calling BRAC part two 'cause we had our part one last week. This week, Maryland apparently wins big with new jobs, but there are some concerns. If you have concerns or questions, call us at 800-433-8850. Send us a tweet, @kojoshow, an email to email@example.com. Or simply go to our website, kojoshow.org, and join the conversation there. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome to our conversation about how the base realignment and closure will be affecting Maryland, which is gaining a lot of new jobs. We're inviting your calls at 800-433-8850. Joining us in studio is Col. Daniel Thomas, installation commander at Fort Meade. Bob Leib is the Anne Arundel County Executive special assistant for BRAC. And Phil Alperson is the Montgomery County BRAC coordinator in the Office of the County Executive.
NNAMDIAnd, Phil Alperson, concerns about traffic in Bethesda don't only have to do with traffic on the roads. We got this email from someone who says, "Could your guest today speak about the helicopter traffic in and out of the Bethesda side? There seems to have been an uptick in it. How much will it increase from previous years? Does the Defense Department or the hospital keep logs or statistics on it?"
ALPERSONYou know, that comes up a lot, and I address that a lot to people at the naval campus. They will tell you that they only have, you know, maybe a couple of helicopter flights a month. And, you know, they suggest that maybe some of the helicopter noise is coming from other sources. There are other hospitals nearby, suburban hospital, which is the trauma center for the area, has a lot of helicopter flights.
ALPERSONAnd, of course, we're near the Beltway, so there's a lot of air traffic controlling, people flying around. So that's all I can tell you about that. It's not just the naval hospital. It's other people. But the officials at Bethesda Naval are sensitive to that, and so they keep trying to remind people that there are other helicopters out there. It's not just them.
NNAMDIWell, Col. Thomas, during the break, we talked about MARC Train Service. Here is Chris in Washington, D.C., with a question. Chris, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
CHRISYes. The passenger rail service in this country have a long tradition of transporting military service personnel. During World War II, they transported millions of service personnel. My question is, with all these new jobs, and not just regular 9-to-5 jobs but jobs that are needed to be done at all hours of the night and day, when are we going to have improvements to the MARC Train Service that will be running all day long, perhaps, in both directions all day long? That's my question. And an appropriate bus service, too, in some of the stations. I'll take my answer off the air.
NNAMDIWell, right now, Col. Thomas does not control MARC Train Service, but I don't know if he's been having talks with the MARC officials about this.
THOMASWell, you know, you're absolutely right. I don't control MARC Train Service. The -- what we do control is we have a variety of transportation working groups. And we put together -- I think the good news is we recognize that there's a lot of improvements that need to be made. And when it comes right down to it, it's all about resources and priorities. So we have these partnerships that we've put together.
THOMASAnd I think the lieutenant governor alluded to it, and as well as Bob did. And we have groups -- this working group that meets, and we decide on different initiatives and prioritization of projects, either have to do with rail, with road improvements, with teleworking, with buses, and approach this in a consolidated, synchronized manner to try to improve the overall system and recognizing that there's not enough money to do everything right now.
THOMASWhat we have to do is decide what we can do with the resources we have at hand right now and, if more resources become available, what we do for the future.
NNAMDIOn to the telephones, here is Jerome in Laurel, Md. Jerome, your turn.
JEROMEHi, Kojo. Thanks for taking my call. I don't know if your guests have already addressed whether the ICC expansion, which is -- I live in Laurel, and I live pretty close to the ICC exit there. I don't know if that's related to the BRAC expansion or not. And, also, the guest mentioned STEM education in Anne Arundel.
JEROMEI'm wondering whether he specifically talked to how they're going to improve (word?) as well as STEM education in the county.
LEIBRegarding the STEM in the county, yes, that was a specific decision recognizing the types of opportunities that the BRAC and the DOD growth in our area were providing. And the STEM program in K-12 begins, unbelievably, as early as K. And it goes through K-12 with some, you know, increasing concentration as you go through. And by the time you go to high school, you have the choice of two magnets -- high schools, North County or South River, that specialize in the science, technology, engineering and math curriculum.
LEIBAnd that is mirrored not just in Anne Arundel County, but also in other counties in Maryland. And that -- the STEM -- the recognition of the requirements of an increasing technological job base have really increased the efforts of our K-12 school systems in Howard, Baltimore, Prince George's, Montgomery, et cetera, in order to ensure we're providing, you know, that support for that discipline to again, as I said, increase the competitiveness of our citizens for these jobs.
ALPERSONYeah, on the ICC -- let me jump in on that one. The Maryland Department of Transportation is already running express bus routes using the ICC, connecting the Bethesda Medical Center area to BWI Airport, and that also includes routes to Fort Meade. And, I know, when the ICC is completed, then they'll be running more bus routes from Central Maryland, say, from the Columbia area and so forth to the Bethesda Medical Center area.
NNAMDIJerome, thank you very much for your call. Col. Thomas, how will the influx of more than 5,000 new people affect the character of Fort Meade as we know it?
THOMASThat's a great question because we're -- you know, we're dealing with that every day as far as, you know, a change in character. Now, as far as, you know, the makeup of personnel, it's pretty much going to be the same. We're not going to see a significant change. What we're seeing is a change to the interior of the installation. It's because a lot of where the new construction has come, where the new buildings are at, what is happening is that it's changed where people are moving into the interior of the base.
THOMASSo, for instance, we've already consumed a portion of our golf course. And with the cyber coming, we expect that -- in the future, that the rest of it will be built upon. So what that means is, is that we move a larger number of people to the interior of the base, and that's pretty much how we're seeing the character changes in transportation and personnel flow.
NNAMDIWe don't have a great deal of time left for the infuriated calls from golfers, so here is...
NNAMDISo here is Sue in Glen Burnie, Md. Sue, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
SUEHi. Thank you. I have a childcare center in Glen Burnie. And I would like to get the information out to some of the BRAC people who are coming to Fort Meade. How would I go about doing that, that I have this center and that I have openings?
NNAMDIAny suggestions for Sue, either Bob Leib or you, Col. Thomas?
THOMASGo ahead, Bob.
LEIBOkay. Yeah, I would suggest -- one avenue is for you to contact Fort Meade. Fort Meade puts out a tremendous amount of information about services that are available for the families of folks assigned there. And if you contact Fort Meade, most likely, I would say, in their public affairs office, and if you Google Fort Meade, it's really easy to find that number.
LEIBBut see what you can do to ensure that your information, perhaps, could be provided to the volumes of information that Fort Meade does make available for incoming families to find out what is actually where and what is provided for families outside the base. So that is one avenue of approach for you.
ALPERSONAnd I would mirror that, and that is, get a hold of our public affairs. And there's a variety of either getting the information put or advertising that you can do to get the word out to our population.
NNAMDISue, thank you for your call. Good luck to you. Here is Bruce in Bethesda, Md. Bruce, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
BRUCEHi, Kojo. It's a great program, a great show. My question is about the hours of concentrated work that the hospital does in Bethesda. If there's the timing of the main part of the work that they do -- most businesses are 9:00 to 5:00. Well, that's when everybody's on Wisconsin Avenue. Everybody's on the road at that time. If the hospital ran most of its program from 8 p.m. till 4 a.m., they would have all the roads to themselves.
NNAMDIWell, once again, I have to say that I'm not sure Phil Alperson can persuade the medical center to change the basic way it operates. But here is this: projections, it's my understanding, show that once the transportation improvements are completed, traffic conditions around the medical center in Bethesda should be somewhat better than they are today, even with the growth. Is that correct, Phil Alperson?
ALPERSONThat is what the transportation planners at -- in the state and the county Departments of Transportation have estimated once these intersections and Metro access projects are completed. The traffic right now at all those intersections is failing, and we're not going to make them into grade A intersections after that. But with all the improvements in place, we hope to make transportation move a little bit better than today, even with the growth there.
ALPERSONRight now, the Navy -- of course, the Navy is a 24/7 facility, but most of its activities are during the day. But you'll notice that the Navy's rush hour starts very early in the morning, way earlier than most people, and their exits start earlier. It's not great, but they're doing what they can to accommodate -- 'cause they're there, too. It's their neighborhood, too, and their traffic, too.
NNAMDIAnd I'm afraid that's all the time we have. Bruce, thank you for your call. Col. Thomas, thank you for joining us.
THOMASThanks for having me.
NNAMDICol. Daniel Thomas is the installation commander at Fort Meade. Bob Leib, thank you for joining us.
LEIBThank you. It's been a pleasure.
NNAMDIBob is the Anne Arundel County executive special assistant for BRAC. And Phil Alperson, thank you for joining us.
ALPERSONThank you very much.
NNAMDIPhil is the Montgomery County BRAC coordinator in the office of the County Executive. If you'd like to know more about all things BRAC, go to our website and click on BRAC to see WAMU's complete BRAC coverage. You'll find links to our BRAC series, all of the WAMU newsrooms' BRAC reports and a map of the projects underway in our area. Each Monday in June, we're talking BRAC.
NNAMDIHopefully, you'll join us next week when we'll be looking at Virginia. Thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi. Coming up tomorrow on "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," cloud computing is transforming how businesses store data. Are you next? We explore how new services will change the way you use your music, movies and personal documents. It's Tech Tuesday.
NNAMDIPlus, a top al-Qaida is killed in Somalia while some fear a new civil war in Sudan, Washington's delicate balancing act in the Horn of Africa, "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," noon till 2 tomorrow on WAMU 88.5.
ANNOUNCERToday's programs are made possible in part by Andrew Tucker in celebration of his wife Orlina's (sp?) birthday.
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