Study Forecasts Impact of Base-Closure Recommendations

Posted: August 8, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Maryum Ahsan and Catherine Graham

Northern Virginia residents and businesses wait with anticipation and trepidation for movement on the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) recommendations proposed by the U.S. Department of Defense. To help assess the impact on the Washington, D.C., metropolitan region, Stephen Fuller, public policy professor at George Mason, was asked to provide a study to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments detailing the forecasts of job and household changes based on BRAC recommendations.

According to the proposed BRAC recommendations, more than 23,000 Department of Defense employees are to be moved out of leased office space in Northern Virginia. More than 18,000 employees are expected to relocate to Fort Belvoir, Va., in Fairfax County.

The most severe job losses are expected to occur in Arlington County, the City of Alexandria, and the District of Columbia. Arlington would suffer a total net loss of 19,208 jobs. Alexandria would see a total net loss of 7,539 jobs, and more than 7,841 jobs would be lost in the District of Columbia.

Because of the shifting of jobs from Arlington to Fairfax, Fairfax would have a net gain of 15,636 jobs.

The study, which was based on the information available as of June 27, stated that it would take several years for the office market to recover from job relocations, but vacated office space was expected to be backfilled with new jobs well before 2020. There would also be opportunities for redevelopment as housing.

Employee relocations, however, will not have a negative impact on the economy, according to the study. Major changes in household location patterns are not expected because many employees already live near the I-95 corridor. Furthermore, many employees are members of two-plus worker households in which residence location is determined by the location of more than one worker’s job.

U.S. Sen. John Warner and Virginia Congs. Jim Moran and Tom Davis have hosted public discussions on the recommendations made by the BRAC Commission. Moran, who is strongly opposed to the recommendations, testified several times before the members of the commission, calling Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s recommendations “deeply flawed.”

“We believe the Secretary of Defense’s selection process set out to eliminate leased space in Northern Virginia, failed to collect and compare actual data, and as a result is neither accurate nor sufficient to meet the requirements of the law,” said Moran before the BRAC Commission on July 7.

The BRAC Commission must release its findings in a report to President George W. Bush by Sept. 8. Bush has until Sept. 23 to forward the report to Congress or return it to the commission for alteration. If the president sends the report to Congress, the legislature will have 45 days to either pass a resolution rejecting the report or take no action, whereby the BRAC report becomes law.

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