Schumer, Gillibrand, Brindisi Secure Additional Layer of Protection for Funding and Jobs at DFAS Rome; New Provision Adds Congressional Oversight to Impede Any Effort to Reduce Dfas Jobs in Rome
Reps Have Been Staunch Advocates For DFAS Employees, Preventing Job Transfers & Losses Over The Years; Worked Tirelessly To Preserve Efficient, Productive, And Cost-Effective Workforce At DFAS, Which Anchors Nearly 1000 Good-Paying Jobs In Mohawk Valley
Reps Say Legislation Will Require A DoD Report Submitted to Congressional Armed Services Committees Prior To Transitioning Any DFAS Functions Elsewhere; Report Would Require Justifications For Changes, Adding Another Layer Of Protection For DFAS Employees
Reps: DFAS Protection Is Win-Win-Win For DoD, Employees, & Entire Regional Economy
Following years of advocacy on behalf of Rome's Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS), U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, U.S. Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, and U.S. Congressman Anthony Brindisi today announced that the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference bill defers to language secured earlier this year in the Senate NDAA report that would provide congress with more oversight over DFAS personnel changes and adds an additional layer of protection for DFAS employees. Specifically, the representatives said, upon the president's signature, the legislation will require that prior to transitioning any DFAS functions to commercial or information technology alternatives that would result in a reduction or transferring of DFAS employees, the DoD must submit a report to congressional armed services committees providing justification that that the alternative would yield significant cost savings.
"DFAS Rome is an anchor for nearly a thousand good-paying jobs in the Mohawk Valley, so every year when Congress sets our defense budget, without hesitation I work overtime to protect those jobs," said Senator Schumer. "Today, as they work through a global pandemic, we are one step closer to giving those world-class employees peace of mind that their jobs are a little safer. Extra protection for DFAS funding and jobs is a win-win-win for the DoD, which benefits from the efficient, productive, and cost-effective DFAS workforce, the employees, and the entire regional economy."
"DFAS workers are crucial to the DoD's financial management. Safeguarding the jobs of these hardworking men and women in this year's NDAA will provide stability to the Mohawk Valley's economy and to the families who rely on them," said Senator Gillibrand. "As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I have repeatedly fought alongside Senator Schumer and Rep. Brindisi to stave off threats that would hurt DFAS Rome. By protecting the workforce and funding in Rome, we can ensure that DFAS will maintain efficient and effective service to the DoD in support of our national defense."
"The hardworking men and women at DFAS do incredibly efficient and important work on behalf of the Department of Defense," said Congressman Brindisi. "Using my seat on the House Armed Services Committee, and working with my partners Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, we were able to continue our fight to protect these jobs and deliver a little more certainty for the employees. These jobs, and the families they support, are crucial to our local economy and help make the Mohawk Valley a bedrock for our defense industry."
"This is a tremendous benefit to the ongoing automation initiatives that could directly impact employment at DFAS. We certainly appreciate the continued support We have received from our National elected representatives to stabilize and and expand the work done by our exceptional workforce. This inclusion will enable the our best possible service to always be a factor in keeping work in the community," said Ed Abounader, President AFGE/DFAS Rome Local 201.
The representatives have long fought to preserve jobs at Rome's DFAS. Schumer and Gillibrand in 2018 went to bat for them in the Senate, successfully ensuring that the Senate version of that year's NDAA did not contain the 25% cut to agencies that employ civilian workers the House version did. In doing so, the senators save approximately 200 DFAS jobs.
Additionally, in 2014, approximately 1,000 DFAS employees in Rome became concerned that their largest customer, the U.S. Army, would be restructuring and internalizing a portion of DFAS's functions. The concerns were related to the Army's new enterprise management system that is intended to make financial management more auditable and efficient, but could ultimately take job functions away from DFAS. When news broke, Schumer immediately got to work by calling then Secretary of the Army John McHugh and Undersecretary for Defense Bob Hale to directly make the case that Rome's workforce was cost-effective and efficient. Senator Schumer partnered with Senator Gillibrand in sending a letter to then Secretary of the Army, John McHugh, to request information about the pilot and to stand in support with the workers of Rome. After receiving assurances from McHugh and Hale that no immediate layoffs were looming, Schumer traveled to Rome on March 24, 2014 to hold a rally with employees and pledged to fight tooth and nail to protect their jobs. Schumer's advocacy continued in June of 2014 when he met with then Under Secretary of Defense, Mike McCord, who would serve as the comptroller of the U.S. Army and oversaw Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) in Rome, where he reiterated his support for DFAS Rome's workforce. Senator Gillibrand used her position on the Armed Services Committee to speak with nominees for Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and Undersecretary of the Army to reinforce the importance of the work done at Rome DFAS and request full transparency as the Army worked on its pilot.
With the pilot program ongoing and rumors still swirling about layoffs at DFAS Rome, Schumer and Gillibrand pushed for provisions and protections for DFAS to be included in the FY 15 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The senators were successfully able to include language in the FY15 NDAA that required a congressional briefing by DoD regarding any process that could alter activities carried out by DFAS. Specifically, the language required that no initiative proposed or pilot program aimed to transfer functions away from DFAS to anywhere else in the Defense Department be implemented until the Secretary of Defense certified that "the plan would reduce costs, increase efficiencies, maintain the timeline for auditability of financial statements, and maintain the roles and missions of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service." It further required that the findings of these analyses would have to be reported to the Congressional Defense Committees before any proposed transfer is implemented. The legislation was passed in the House on December 5, 2014 and passed the Senate on December 12, 2014. Schumer and Gillibrand continued to push the Army and Department of Defense to disclose information on the pilot program until their announcement in 2017 that the pilot program had concluded and that there would be no changes or layoffs as a result of the program.
The Defense Finance and Accounting Service was created in 1991 to standardize and improve accounting and financial operations for Department of Defense. They provide payroll services for Department of Defense military and civilian personnel, retirees and other major contractors and vendors. DFAS operates as a separate and unique entity in Department of Defense, to ensure transparency and accountability on behalf of Department of Defense financing and accounting.