Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Richard Hanna today announced, after their push, Congress passes a measure that would help provide additional protections for the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). The measure was included in the FY 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and includes language requiring an independent review by the Deputy Chief Management Officer of an Army pilot program that threatens to harm DFAS. The bill also requires an independent review by the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) of any initiative proposed or pilot initiated in this fiscal year that would permanently transfer functions away from DFAS to anywhere else in the Department of Defense (DoD). Such a review would assess, at a minimum, the impacts on cost, auditability, DFAS capabilities, and the ability of DFAS to maintain DOD-wide services. The findings of these analyses would have to be reported to the Congressional Defense Committees before any proposed transfer is implemented. The legislation was passed in the House on December 5, 2014 and passed the Senate today.
Schumer, Gillibrand and Hanna have long fought to add more protections for Rome DFAS jobs. In addition to the language included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
In November, the lawmakers called on both the chairs and ranking members of the Senate Armed Services Committee and House Armed Services Committee to preserve language from the already-passed House version of the NDAA and include it in the final version of the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2015. The original House bill, passed in May 2014, included language that requires a briefing by DoD regarding any process that could alter activities carried out by DFAS. The request came in light of preliminary discussions by the Army that could impact more than 950 jobs in Rome.
“A few months ago, I stood with hundreds of Rome DFAS employees to send a message about their cost-effective, productive and efficient work. These protections reinforce those efforts and makes sure these good-paying, local jobs are secure for the long haul,” said Senator Schumer. “This provision will provide even better protections for DFAS and its 950 employees. DFAS is critical to the Rome-Utica region’s economy, and we will be vigilant and aggressive in advocating for its continued success.”
“I am pleased we will have enhanced oversight over any possible changes that could impact the nearly 1,000 DFAS workers in Rome,” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “We have continued to push as a team to make sure it was known that DFAS worker’s in Rome have remained productive, efficient and cost-effective. DFAS helps ensure transparency of DoD’s accounting and financial management and is vital for families in Rome and across the country. I look forward to closely monitoring any Army developments that could impact DFAS.”
“This bill strengthens DFAS Rome and puts a major roadblock in front of any proposal to move these jobs out of Rome,” Rep. Hanna said. “Too often, our Rome employees are concerned that they could lose their job with little to no notice. This provision ensures that Congress has an active role in seeing that Rome DFAS continues to provide premiere accounting services for our troops right here in our community.”
“This is a tremendous victory for both DFAS/Rome employees and the Central New York community,” said DFAS Union President Ed Abounader. “Our strong coalition of local, state and national representatives worked extremely hard to provide employment security for the Rome DFAS workforce through appropriate Congressional language allowing for third party review for any potential transfer of DFAS work within the Deptment of Defense. We are extremely appreciative of this assistance and overall acknowledgement of the exceptional work done by DFAS/Rome employees.”
Earlier this year, more than 950 DFAS employees in Rome became concerned that their largest customer, the U.S. Army, would be restructuring and internalizing a large portion of DFAS’s functions. The concerns are related to the Army’s new enterprise management system that is intended to make financial management more auditable and efficient.
The Defense Finance and Accounting Service was created in 1991 to standardize and improve accounting and financial operations for DoD. They provide payroll services for DoD military and civilian personnel, retirees and other major contractors and vendors. DFAS operates as a separate and unique entity in DoD, to ensure transparency and accountability on behalf of DoD financing and accounting.
The full text of the letter to the Senate and House Armed Services Committees is attached.