Maryland’s Aberdeen Proving Ground is preparing to absorb 6,000 new employees from 11 organizations as part of the Base Realignment and Closure plan.
The proving ground develops and tests defense equipment, including electronics, weapons systems and protective armor on vehicles, said Aberdeen Garrison Commander Colonel Orlando Ortiz.
Most of Aberdeen’s new employees will come from Ft. Monmouth in New Jersey. To accommodate the added workforce, the proving ground has put $1 billion into new construction.
As people are not just changing their workplace but also their entire lives, the facilities also include food services, recreation and medical support, Ortiz said.
“You just don’t focus on facility construction but look across the board at quality of life,” he said.
“When you walk about and engage with many of the folks who have transferred from New Jersey and elsewhere is they’re pleasantly surprised,” Ortiz said.
Aberdeen has also set up an interactive customer evaluation (ICE) that allows employees to “sound off” on potential problems on the installation, Ortiz said. The feedback is reviewed daily and summarized and responded to weekly, he added.
Initially, newcomers to the installation had “tremendous concerns,” but Ortiz said once they come to the proving ground they have a positive response.
Not all of the changes have been smooth, though.
“With progress, there is some degree of pain,” Ortiz said.
In this case, the pain is traffic. Aberdeen has identified problematic intersections and is working with state, county and DoD officials to find solutions. So far, the state has committed $42 million to improve road conditions at one of the major intersections, Ortiz said.
The state has acknowledged that other intersections are also problematic, but, Ortiz said, “Of course, money is always a challenge.”