Va. workers not sold on living in Md., survey says

Federal Workers

October 13, 2006|By Melissa Harris

Workers for the Virginia-based Defense Information Security Agency - the crown jewel of Fort Meade's windfall in last year's military Base Realignment and Closure process - might need to be sold on Maryland as their new home between now and their expected move in 2010, according to survey data presented to the Howard County Council this week.

More than two-thirds of the agency's workers, who earn an average of $85,000 a year, said that they would not move to Maryland when their offices relocate to Fort Meade from leased space in Arlington and Fairfax counties, said Kent Menser, executive director of Howard County's BRAC task force.

About a fifth of the agency's employees live in Maryland, according to the survey, which was completed last year.

In his presentation to the County Council, Dr. Samuel Seymour, a member of the BRAC task force, characterized the survey as "premature" and said it was conducted when workers were in a "state of denial" about the move.

He said that the agency will conduct additional surveys and that the outlook for Maryland should improve as the move nears.

According to Department of Defense data, the information security agency, which provides combat support in the communications and information technology fields, would supply 4,095, or 72 percent, of the 5,715 federal employees and on-base contractors expected at Fort Meade as part of the base realignments and closings.

Estimates of off-base contractors range from 3,000 to 12,000, according to the task force's presentation. The task force said 2,050 to 4,200 of them might end up in Howard County.

Howard County Councilman Guy Guzzone, a North Laurel-Savage Democrat whose district is the closest to Fort Meade, cautioned that the county has not committed itself to building housing in response to these estimates, noting issues such as school capacity.

"I don't want to send out any impression ... that this county government has made any commitment in terms of accommodating that number of people," Guzzone said.

New Web sites

Two Web sites of interest to federal employees have debuted recently.

The Washington Post reported that www.legistorm.com, the site that took salaries from books in the "document rooms" of the U.S. Capitol and posted them on the Internet, crashed soon after it went up, thanks to a surge of curiosity among politicos.

The Web site lists salaries in six-month or quarterly increments, depending on the office.

The other site, www.fed spending.org, is an easy-to-use database of federal contracts and grants. The site, created by a nonprofit group that monitors the White House Office of Management and Budget, ranks Maryland as fourth-largest recipient of contract dollars, at $21.9 billion in fiscal 2005, behind Virginia, California and Texas.

The site also lists Department of Defense contractors URS Corp., Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman as the top four contract recipients in Maryland.

The writer welcomes your comments. She can be reached at melissa.harris@baltsun.com or 410-715-2885. Recent columns can be read at www.baltimoresun.com/federal.

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