The controversy over traffic congestion and road improvements surrounding the Mark Center expansion in the Springfield area might have been avoided under legislation sponsored by Rep. Gerry Connolly and approved by both houses of Congress this month.
The transfer of thousands of personnel from Crystal City and other close-in, Metro-served locations to the Mark Center complex off I-395 was part of the Base Realignment and Closing (BRAC) process that affected U.S. military bases nationwide.
A provision developed by Connolly and Reps. Jim Moran (D-VA) and Rob Wittman (R-VA) changes Department of Defense regulations on how DoD can use funds to make improvements to roads around military installations and facilities that will grow in size due to BRAC.
Current DoD rules require that traffic double on roads off-base before any DAR (defense access roads) money could be used. That mandate would be eliminated.
In addition, DoD is required to find other money in its budget to help fund traffic-related road improvements off-base, and, in the future, it must take traffic mitigation into account when it plans a BRAC move.
The BRAC measure was one of four pieces of legislation sponsored by Connolly that have passed both houses of Congress and are awaiting President Obama’s signature to become law. The four Connolly legislative initiatives were rolled into a larger defense authorization measure that passed the Congress this month.
ENHANCING FEDERAL ACQUISITION INSTITUTE
One of Connolly’s bipartisan bills would increase training for federal acquisition personnel who oversee federal contracts. Connolly, who is Ranking Member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee that handles contracting and procurement issues, said, “If we are concerned about saving taxpayer money, looking for efficiencies and avoiding waste, fraud and abuse, it starts with professional training.”
The legislation would give the Federal Acquisition Institute the tools it needs to enhance training, improve oversight, and develop and update government-wide training standards and certification requirements.
“Given the complexity of many of today’s federal contracts, it benefits the taxpayers to have federal contracting officers who are well-versed in the issues at hand,” Connolly said. Pennsylvania Republican Todd Platts cosponsored the Connolly amendment. Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins authored the companion bill in the Senate and Connolly worked closely with her on the language and strategy. The Professional Services Council and other contracting advocates supported the Connolly/Collins language.
IMPROVING FEDERAL INTERNSHIP PROGRAM
Another Connolly bill would beef up the federal internship program and add some standardization to how agencies conduct their internships.
“Not always do bright and promising interns get the opportunity to understand the agency they are interning for,” Connolly said. “This bill would put structure in place across the federal government, make internships a better educational experience for participants, and most importantly, give federal agencies a good opportunity to identify top-notch candidates for federal jobs to replace the brain drain that will result as more Baby Boomers – more than 45 percent of the workforce – retire from the federal government over the next decade.”
California Republican Brian Bilbray cosponsored the internship amendment.
REDUCING DEATHS AND INJURIES IN BATTLEFIELD CONVOYS
Another Connolly amendment will help reduce fuel convoy deaths and injuries among troops on the battlefield.
The amendment mandates the use of more fuel-efficient tents for our forward and frontline troops to reduce the need for as many fuel convoys to travel through dangerous territory to the front lines. “Many of our service members are killed and injured by IEDs targeting fuel convoys on roads in the war zones,” Connolly said. “This legislation will help to reduce their exposure to IEDs.”
— by Fairfax News – Dec. 23, 2011 at http://fairfaxnews.com/2011/12/future-brac-projects-will-include-more-money-for-roads/