It was a tough, hard fought year for AFGE activists working at depots and arsenals nationwide. Their livelihoods depend on provisions in the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, a policy bill that authorizes programs at the Department of Defense. Thanks to support from their elected officials, they were able to prevent cuts that would have devastated their families and local economies. The bill passed the House on Nov. 5 and sailed through the Senate Nov. 10. It was signed by the President and became Public Law 114-92 on Nov. 25, 2015.
Here are the highlights of our activists’ hard-fought victory:
- Buy America for arsenals and depots. The bill requires DoD to review items purchased overseas to see if any could be manufactured in the arsenals or repaired in the depots, bringing additional work to civilian employees.
- Furlough prohibition. The bill exempts working capital fund employees, who are paid through reimbursements for the services they provide, from non-disciplinary furloughs as long as funds are available.
- Headquarters cuts. The bill seeks to exclude working capital fund employees from arbitrary 20% cuts in headquarters personnel by defining “headquarters” in a way that it would not apply to operational level activities such as manufacturing arsenals and depots and also allowed past cuts to be taken into consideration for future reductions.
- Commercial items. The bill fixes the new commercial item definition so that depots’ core workload is not impacted by changes that encourage greater flow of workload to the private sector, ensuring that depot workload will continue to be performed by civilian employees. The successful amendments by Congressman Scott preserved teeth in 10 USC 2464, the core statute.
- Data rights. The bill allows depot/arsenal employees to provide their input into the intellectual property study that affects their workload. Industry pushed for the study as a way to prevent DoD from having access to necessary data to manufacture, repair, and overhaul weapons and weapons systems in government facilities. DoD needs to have access to that data to know how to manufacture or repair a part or weapon. Without that info or access to it, the contractor can extort enormous prices that are completely out of range from their costs.
- Acquisition strategy. The bill requires an acquisition strategy that includes plans for future maintenance, logistics and sustainment, which complies with existing depot related laws, including the 50/50 public-private depot law guaranteeing a 50% floor of depot workload to the public sector.
- Depot maintenance capability. Congress requires the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study on DoD’s depot maintenance capability and compliance with the core statute. The goal is to uncover violations that we know took place but are not being reported to the chain of command or Congress.
AFGE congratulates our activists and thanks Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah, Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, Rep. Austin Scott of Georgia, Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Rep. Derek Kilmer of Washington, and members of the bipartisan House Depot Caucus for their support.