The importance of Rome facilities for the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) was emphasized by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, during a local visit Monday.
The AFRL Information Directorate, also known as Rome Lab, is “vital” in its mission, said Gillibrand following a tour of the Brooks Road facility at Griffiss park.
Speaking at the entrance of the next-door Rome DFAS after also touring that site, Gillibrand cited efforts to continue and enhance that local facility’s role. She also said she spoke to some employees about how the local DFAS mission has “expanded over time.”
Gillibrand, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, said she came to the sites as part of her ongoing work on the committee, noting she also has been visiting various other defense-related locations in the state.
Rome Lab’s mission and the expansion of issues for which the lab is at the forefront are very important to warfighters, Gillibrand commented.
Gillibrand emphasized the lab’s “state-of-the-art technology, cutting-edge research,” as well as its “collaboration with the private sector” in its work. The lab can help make a “difference between winning and losing,” she said, and for national security.
The lab’s employment in fiscal 2018 included 777 civilian and military employees, plus 405 on-site contractors. The lab “leads the Air Force and nation in Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence (C4I) and cyber science, technology, research, and development,” says its most recent economic impact report.
Regarding Rome DFAS, Gillibrand was asked about current fiscal 2019 defense act legislation that includes determining whether any DFAS functions could be better performed by military departments or commercial providers; it calls for the review results to be submitted to congressional defense committees no later than March 1, 2020. She also was asked about union concerns regarding automation tryout projects for certain DFAS functions, including possible employment impacts.
Gillibrand noted her support for maintaining Rome DFAS job as much as possible. She said she and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, have been aggressive in removing some defense bill provisions that could negatively affect DFAS; in summer 2018 they announced successful efforts to eliminate a provision that would have required a 25 percent cut to agencies that employ civilian workers, like DFAS. Revisions are being sought in the next defense act legislation involving the review process for the findings on DFAS functions that are submitted by March 2020.
Gillibrand also noted efforts to continue working with the DFAS union regarding job protection, and to seek the benefits of future missions that could enhance and augment the work of employees to assist warfighters.
Rome DFAS has about 960 employees, and much of its functions have involved processing various Army financial accounts including payroll, vendor payments, travel, and others. DFAS overall is an accounting arm of the U.S. Department of Defense, and Rome is one of five major DFAS sites including two in Ohio and one each in Indiana and Maine.
Among those accompanying Gillibrand during her visit to the Rome sites was Rome Mayor Jacqueline Izzo; Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon, D-119, Marcy; and Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri.