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Defense Communities 360 Headlines

Pentagon Follows Best Practices for Facilities Planning, GAO Finds

  • July 28, 2015
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The Defense Department adheres to leading practices for capital planning when it develops funding requirements for facilities modernization, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office. For example, DOD guidance establishes a system for determining funding requirements and reviewing and approving budget requests by taking into consideration the costs of proposed assets, the levels of risk involved in modernizing assets and their importance to DOD’s mission, GAO found. The guidance also requires the military services to prioritize projects. DOD guidance establishes an annual budget process for identifying and allocating resources for capital investments to achieve the department’s strategic objectives …

Force Reductions to Leave Army at ‘Razor’s Edge,’ Odierno Says

  • July 26, 2015
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The Army’s plan to shrink its active-duty end strength to 450,000 soldiers over the next three years will force the nation to assume a greater level of risk as the number of hotspots across the globe rises, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said Thursday. “With the increased instability around the world, 490,000 is the right number, but we can’t do it,” Odierno said during a visit to Fort Carson. “We don’t have the budget to do it.” The decision to eliminate 40,000 troops was prompted by the discretionary spending caps imposed under the 2011 Budget Control Act. Odierno, who is retiring in August, is hoping lawmakers strike a multi-year deal to raise the spending caps …

City to Spend $50M on Public Art at Treasure Island

  • July 26, 2015
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The $1.5 billion transformation of San Francisco’s Treasure Island into a mixed-use community slated to take place over the next two decades will have a strong emphasis on public art under a plan the San Francisco Arts Commission is assembling. The commission, which is planning to spend $50 million at the former naval station in San Francisco Bay, is considering a variety of projects to turn the island into an art-world destination — island-wide treasure hunts, dance performances, light displays, wind-activated art and sculpture gardens. “As San Francisco is changing, this is really an investment in the role of artists in San Francisco and the artists who have made this city so great,” said Tom DeCaigny, the commission’s director of cultural affairs …

Parks Agency Launches Planning Process for Portion of Concord Site

  • July 26, 2015
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Dozens of residents turned out Thursday to help the East Bay Regional Park District plan a 2,600-acre park at the former Concord Naval Weapons Station in northern California. Much of the new Concord Hills Regional Park — which will include grasslands, wildflower fields, rolling hills, oak trees and wetlands — will remain undeveloped, but the district plans to convert miles of existing rail lines to multi-use trails for pedestrians and bicyclists, reported the Contra Costa Times. “It’s a fantastic piece of property we’ve been working on for 10 years now,” said Brian Holt, principal planner with the park district …

Hampton Roads Shipyard to Lay off 1,500-Plus Workers

  • July 26, 2015
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Newport News Shipbuilding, the largest industrial employer in Virginia, told employees last week it plans to lay off at least 1,500 workers through 2016 in response to a temporary drop in work. “We do not yet know the extent of the reductions, but in 2015, it will be more than 500 people. In 2016, it will likely be more than 1,000 people,” shipyard employees were told in a letter from the company’s president, Matt Mulherin. “The layoffs this fall will be followed by more in 2016 “as workload drops across the yard,” the letter said …

Service Providers Strive to End Veteran Homelessness in Chattanooga

  • July 26, 2015
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Nearly a dozen social service agencies supporting the Chattanooga, Tenn., region met last week to coordinate their efforts to end veteran homelessness by next year. Chattanooga is among 75 cities striving to end homelessness among veterans as part of the Zero: 2016 initiative. “We’re going to get veterans housed,” said Donna Maddox, director of Joe Johnson Mental Health Center, reported the Times Free Press. Chattanooga has 80 homeless veterans according to the most recent annual point-in-time count. The city has housed 37 veterans in the past six months …

Congress to Take up CR in September, Boehner Says

  • July 24, 2015
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Lawmakers most likely will rely on a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government open when the new fiscal year starts Oct. 1, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Thursday. “It’s pretty clear, given the number of days we’re going to be here in September, that we’re going to need a CR of some kind,” Boehner said. The speaker did not address how long he envisioned a stopgap measure lasting, reported CQ Roll Call. “No decisions have been made about that,” he said. “We’ll deal with it when we get back in September …

Housing Allowance, Retirement Benefits Remain Sticking Points for Conferees

  • July 24, 2015
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A handful of outstanding issues are hindering progress by House and Senate conferees negotiating a final version of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill, and almost certainly will prevent talks from finishing in time for the two chambers to clear a compromise measure before leaving Washington for August recess. Issues holding up the talks include service members’ housing and retirement benefits, along with language in the House version barring the Interior Department from listing the greater sage grouse as an endangered species. Members of the House and Senate Armed Services committees have met throughout the week, but differences over those issues and others make it doubtful they will meet their target date for agreeing to a conference report, reported CQ Roll Call. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the ranking member on House Armed Services, said committee leaders were not planning to meet Thursday, making it extremely unlikely that negotiations could be completed this week …

DOD Takings Steps to Lessen Utility Risks, but Challenges Remain with Cybersecurity Guidance

  • July 24, 2015
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The military services are taking steps to mitigate the risks posed by utility disruptions which have resulted in operational and fiscal impacts due to hazards such as mechanical failure and extreme weather, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office. Installations have installed backup generators and conducted vulnerability assessments of their utility systems to prepare for future disruptions. DOD reported 180 utility disruptions lasting eight hours or longer in fiscal 2013, with an average financial impact of about $220,000 per day …

Fargo Leaders Highlight Assets of ‘Hooligans’

  • July 24, 2015
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Leaders from the Fargo, N.D., business community believe this week’s visit by Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James strengthened the long-term outlook for the North Dakota Air National Guard’s “Happy Hooligans.” The military support group of the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce touted the importance of the 119th Wing’s Predator unmanned aerial vehicle and intelligence targeting missions, and encouraged the secretary to consider the base for future manned flying missions, reported Inforum. Officials also pointed out that the National Guard unit has not experienced difficulties retaining Predator support specialists, a problem the rest of the Air Force is dealing with. Most significantly, the chamber gained James’ support for building a $7.3 million facility for the wing’s intelligence unit …

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