AFTER YEARS OF WORK PROTECTING 1000+ ROME DFAS JOBS AGAINST ILL-CONCEIVED AND UNJUSTIFIED EFFORTS TO MOVE THEM, SCHUMER, GILLIBRAND ANNOUNCE CURRENT PILOT PROGRAM DESIGNED TO POTENTIALLY MOVE THOSE JOBS IS DEAD; SENATORS SAY JOBS ARE SAFE & THERE WILL BE NO CHANGES OR LAYOFFS AS A RESULT OF PILOT
Senators Say Pilot Program Confirms DFAS Is Too Vital To DOD; And Praise the Efficient, Productive and Cost-Effective Workforce at DFAS
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced, following years of work, the current Army Financial Management Optimization (AFMO) pilot program has concluded. Schumer and Gillibrand said the pilot failed to support the idea of centralizing financial management at Army hubs; as a result, there will be no structural changes or elimination of jobs in the immediate future at the DFAS in Rome, New York.
“Today’s announcement is momentous news for Rome and the entire Mohawk Valley,” said Senator Schumer. “DFAS Rome is an anchor for nearly a thousand good-paying jobs in the region, and our efforts to work overtime to protect them has finally paid off. When I first caught wind of this pilot program – the sole purpose of which was to undermine the efficient, cost-effective and productive workforce in Rome – I immediately took this fight to preserve DFAS jobs to the very top of the Army and DOD. I will say it loudly and proudly. I will continue to stand guard over this operation and its wonderful workers and fight any attempt to move jobs out of Rome.”
“This is the news that we’ve been fighting for years to finally hear – that this Army pilot, which could have taken work away from DFAS and its employees – has proven to be a failure,” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “I was so proud to fight in the Senate Armed Services Committee for the workers at DFAS, and I will continue to monitor any ongoing efforts by the Army that would affect these good-paying jobs. I will continue doing everything I can to bring even more good-paying jobs back to the Mohawk Valley, and protect the jobs that are already there at DFAS Rome.”
In 2014, approximately 1,000 DFAS employees in Rome became concerned that their largest customer, the U.S. Army, would be restructuring and internalizing a portion of DFAS’s functions. The concerns were related to the Army’s new enterprise management system that is intended to make financial management more auditable and efficient, but could ultimately take job functions away from DFAS. When news broke, Schumer immediately got to work by calling then Secretary of the Army John McHugh and Undersecretary for Defense Bob Hale to directly make the case that Rome’s workforce was cost-effective and efficient. Senator Schumer partnered with Senator Gillibrand and Representative Richard Hanna in sending a letter to then Secretary of the Army, John McHugh, to request information about the pilot and to stand in support with the workers of Rome. After receiving assurances from McHugh and Hale that no immediate layoffs were looming, Schumer traveled to Rome on March 24, 2014 to hold a rally with employees and pledged to fight tooth and nail to protect their jobs. Schumer’s advocacy continued in June of 2014 when he met with then Under Secretary of Defense, Mike McCord, who would serve as the comptroller of the U.S. Army and oversaw Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) in Rome, where he reiterated his support for DFAS Rome’s workforce. Senator Gillibrand used her position on the Armed Services Committee to speak with nominees for Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and Undersecretary of the Army to reinforce the importance of the work done at Rome DFAS and request full transparency as the Army worked on its pilot.
With the pilot program on ongoing and rumors still swirling about layoffs at DFAS Rome, Schumer, Gillibrand and Hanna pushed for provisions and protections for DFAS to be included in the FY 15 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Schumer, Gillibrand and Hanna successfully were able to include language in the FY15 NDAA that required a congressional briefing by DoD regarding any process that could alter activities carried out by DFAS. Specifically, the language required that no initiative proposed or pilot program aimed to transfer functions away from DFAS to anywhere else in the Defense Department be implemented until the Secretary of Defense certified that “the plan would reduce costs, increase efficiencies, maintain the timeline for auditability of financial statements, and maintain the roles and missions of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service.” It further required that 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 on December 12, 2014. Schumer, Gillibrand and Hanna continued to push the Army and Department of Defense to disclose information on the pilot program up until today’s announcement.
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. Schumer, and Gillibrand are praising the end of this pilot program and said that is a reminder again that DFAS Rome facility is highly efficient and an official component of DOD.