By Brandon BieltzMarch 25, 2011
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. - The Defense Information Systems Agency is one of the newest agencies to call Fort Meade home.
As a combat support agency, DISA provides network and computing infrastructure, and enterprise services to support information-sharing and decision-making.
In 2005, the agency was recommended to consolidate its three facilities and relocate to Fort Meade as part of the Base Realignment and Closure mandate. A 1.1 million-square-foot facility was built on a 95-acre site along Cooper Avenue. The construction is valued at $420 million. The information technology infrastructure is valued at an additional $120 million.
Employees began the move from facilities in Northern Virginia to Fort Meade in January. Workers are moving in at a rate of 150 to 200 people per week. In July, when the relocation is scheduled to be complete, 4,300 military, civilian and direct contractors will be working out of the new, state-of-the-art facility.
David Bullock, DISA's BRAC executive, sat down to discuss the progress of the relocation.
Q: How closely is the move of DISA headquarters going according to plan'
A: It's going very closely according [to plan]. We started moving in January, as scheduled. We've continued to move 150 to 200 people per week. We had a couple of open weekends that were in the schedule so we could start moving, make sure everything was working well, apply any lessons learned.
Q: What have been some of the challenges with the move'
A: Obviously, you have multiple levels of challenges. You start out with constructing the building -- that was a three-year project, 35 months to get a contract awarded, do the design of the building and actually construct the building. We've already accepted the building from the contractor; [they have] already completed the basic construction.
There are some minor construction projects that are under way now, some last-minute changes. By and large, everything is moving along well and the construction is done.
We're still in the process of completing the outfitting. Once you have the building, you have to install furniture, you have to install the IT, you have to install the security system. So since we accepted the building in a phased schedule, we're still finishing the outfitting. We still have furniture going in, we still have IT infrastructure being installed and we still have the security system that's being completed in the last buildings. So those were interesting challenges.
And then you have the actual physical relocation itself, which involves moving a lot of material, people, the paper, books, reference materials, files and what have you. It also involves moving all the IT: all the printers, computers, servers and routers and switches. [We've had] a lot of challenges, we've been able to overcome those challenges. We've got 25 percent of our work force basically moved up here and had a chance to see how the moving process works. We've got a lot of lessons learned to fine-tune that process.
There's a never-ending series of challenges; it just goes on. We have a really good group of people: a combination of government people that work for the agency, government people that work for other organizations that are supporting us and then contractors that we've brought on.
Q: What functions are currently operational here at Fort Meade'
A: Essentially we're a headquarters organization, so we perform headquarters functions. We knew that those functions would be split between our facility up here and our facilities back in Northern Virginia because the move was spread out over a seven-month period. We knew we would have a dual-op situation.
As far as what's operational here' What's operational here is what needs to be here in order to operate the building. We have our security folks, we have our facility folks that do building management, we have our CIO [Chief Information Office] organization that runs the network and provides IT support, we have our MPS [Manpower, Personnel and Security] that provides human resources, personnel, security and facility management -- and they're all continuing to do dual operations.
That will continue right up until the last move occurs. The last five people who move up here are still going to need facility support and security. They're still going to need all those functions. We'll continue to provide that in Northern Virginia in the facilities we still occupy.
Over time, the emphasis will shift as more and more people move up here, more and more of the resources will be applied up here.
Q: What is the latest projection of DISA employees who will stay on and commute'
A: We're not really projecting that now. That was something that we needed to do earlier on, just to get some idea of what we needed to do in terms of reconstituting. As of right now, we're actually observing what happens, how many people are actually moving. It really isn't a case of projecting now as much as it is observing who's moving and who's not moving, and then trying to react accordingly.
We still have a very aggressive recruitment program in place. We're trying to keep the pipeline filled, so to speak, in terms of having job fairs and providing recruiting opportunities. We want to make sure we have announcements out and we have good qualified candidates available so as vacancies occur, we can basically go out and fill those jobs as quickly as possible.