ARDEC town hall
Dr. Gerardo Melendez addresses the ARDEC workforce after the challenges of Hurricane Sandy.

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. -- In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, employees of the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) gathered Nov. 14 for a Town Hall meeting.

"In the past few weeks, we've been through a lot," said ARDEC Director Dr. Gerardo Melendez.

Hurricane Sandy slammed into New Jersey on Oct. 29, flooding communities, toppling trees, and leaving millions in the Greater New York City metropolitan area without electricity for days. The ensuing week brought a snowstorm that dumped up to six inches or more of snow in some areas of New Jersey.

Melendez opened the Town Hall by reminding the audience that, despite the hardships the workforce faced, service members deployed overseas faced even greater challenges. It is important, he added, to keep things in perspective as ARDEC continues to support the warfighter.

"At the end of the day, as bad as we've had it, there are others that are doing service for the country and they're dealing with situations that are even more difficult than what we have," said Melendez. "Those are the guys that we're here for and I just wanted to re-center everybody around that."

Part of recalibrating the workforce toward the future meant addressing the swirl of talk about lower defense spending as overseas wartime operations unwind, as well as the potential for automatic budget cuts from sequestration.

"There's a lot of information in the news, some that pertains to us and some that does not," said Mary Manser, who heads up the ARDEC Financial Management Office.

Manser said some things that would be affected include a reduction in new contract awards, contract extensions, and certain other options.

It would also cause the Department of Defense to reconsider continuing some acquisition programs.

Also, it would also slow down the pace of construction, training, operations and nearly everything else that the Defense Department does.

However, impacts to the Picatinny Arsenal payroll can be mitigated because of ARDEC's business model and the way it is organized.

"We should be concerned, but right now we have no indication that there will be any personnel downsizing," Manser added.

To keep an eye on costs, ARDEC has been reducing spending in all areas possible, including restricting hiring and travel.

Page last updated Tue December 4th, 2012 at 12:00