Moran at ‘wits end’ over looming BRAC disaster

By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor

This morning’s interview on Federal News Radio with Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) started out much like the day: quiet and sedate. We were discussing a new bill, the Federal Supervisor Training Act, which would mandate yearly management training for federal employees who oversee other workers.

“This is a common sense thing that has been in practice for a number of agencies,” said Moran. He went on to explain the goal of the mandated training would be sound and consistent management practices across all agencies.

Currently, said Moran, “it’s not required. Some agencies do a better job than others and that’s often times reflected in the surveys that are done of employees.”


Given the expected turnover rate, said Moran, it makes good sense to plan now for the training of future supervisors.

Workforce issues

The Federal Drive asked Moran for his reaction to the plan passed by the House to freeze federal pay for three years.

“It’s punitive. It’s counter-productive,” he fired back. “You know a lot of these folks were elected on the platform that government doesn’t work and now that they’re elected, they’re going to try to prove that to be the case. You can’t have an effective, nor efficient workforce unless there’s some incentive. Unless they’re shown at least that they are appreciated and when you freeze pay, you’re going to lose the best people.”

Then, said Moran, the argument that government doesn’t work becomes self-fulfilling. “If you’re not going to compensate people adequately, if you’re not going to keep up with the cost of living, then you’re going to have attrition. Because we know that health insurance premiums are going up,” said Moran, along with real estate and education.

The injustice of the situation started to bring Moran’s ire up. “Throughout our history,” he said, “particularly post World War II, we’ve had the largest civil service in the world, but it’s also been the least corrupt and the most effective. And the federal civil service gets no credit for that.”

And then things got edgy

Anchor Amy Morris then asked about BRAC, the Base Realignment and Closure moves and looming deadline.

Yes and it’s inexcusable. Some of the folks from the Pentagon have not moved and done what they should have in a timely manner, but it goes back to Secretary Rumsfeld’s decision in 2005, which was made typically unilaterally, without taking into consideration the ramifications. In my case, in northern Virginia, he moved 20,000 people out of office buildings that had access to Metro, required them to get into an automobile and drive down to Fort Belvoir, or even worse, to Seminary Road where there IS no metro system available and it’s going to cause chaos on our roads. I have a stakeholders meeting in Fairfax County now, southeast Fairfax along Fort Belvoir because (Representative) Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and I, finally after three years of effort, got $300 million we agreed to split between Bethesda and northern Virginia, so $150 million, that’ll actually be specifically $145 million, will be used to widen Route 1 north and south of Fort Belvoir and another five million would be put into studying how we might be able to get public transit from the Springfield Metro out to Fort Belvoir, but I’ve still got an enormous problem at Seminary Road. In a few months we’re going to have 3,800 vehicles driving to a place that already has a failing level of service at every major intersection. It’s going to adversely affect about two hundred thousand commuters and I used the word ‘adversely’ – it is going to be a nightmare because we’re going to have delays of as much as an (additional) hour for everyone that lives south of Seminary Road. That’s obscene!

Moran collected himself a bit while explaining that the additional funding for construction would mean roads in the area will be torn up for improvements just as the demand will be increasing.

“I’m at my wits’ end,” Moran lamented. “There’s little compensation in being able to say ‘I told you so’ and I’m afraid it’s too late for there to be any other outcome. It’s going to just be awful by the end of this calendar year and it’s because of inadequate planning, inadequate consideration of all of the commuters going into D.C. and of Pentagon employees themselves, particularly the Washington Headquarters Service.”

“This,” said Moran, “is going to be a disaster.”