The Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) is responsible for managing and directing efforts to assist communities impacted by Defense program changes, including base closures, base expansions, and contract or program cancellations, and for coordinating involvement of other federal agencies in the process.
The Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) was established during President John Kennedy’s administration, out of the office of Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, to stem adverse impact on jobs and local economies after a government cost-reduction program closed a large number of military bases.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, OEA opened its first regional office, located in Pasadena, California. Four more offices followed in Boston, Chicago, Kansas City, and Atlanta. These regional outposts helped facilitate federal grant deliveries.
As OEA shifted its attention to growth communities in the 1980s, block grants replaced categorical grants, so regional assistance waned and all offices were closed except for those on the West Coast. Due to congressional stipulations, no major military bases were closed during that decade. In 1988, a new base closure statute was enacted, which was designed to shield the process from political manipulation. The law set up a bipartisan commission that channeled base recommendations to the President. A report issued in 1988 recommended 91 base closures (five partial) and 54 realignments.
As a result of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process developed in the late 1980s and ’90s, the OEA provided support to many local communities in the face of defense industry cutbacks. The system proved so successful that it served as a model for communities within former Soviet States and new Eastern European countries to better cope with reductions in military spending.
The OEA is currently helping communities adapt to military growth in 27 regions, working on the completion of 65 Joint Land Use Studies, and collaborating with 111 local redevelopment authorities to deal with the closure of both large and small installations.
The Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) was set up to help alleviate as many negative effects as possible on people living in communities where Defense program changes occur, from military bases being shut down, or new ones opened, to defense contracts getting canceled.
The office works to:
From the Web Site of the Office of Economic Adjustment
The Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) spent $454.5 thousand on more than 50 contractor transactions between FY 2002 and FY 2012, according to USASpending.org. The top five types of products or services purchased were administrative support services ($146,982), economic studies ($132,642), construction/restoration ($96,000), transportation/travel/relocation/motor pool operations ($71,434), and basic services ($7,482). The top five contractors that were recipients of this OEA spending were:
1. S4 Inc. $146,982
2. Michigan State University $132,642
3. Bristol Design Build Services LLC $96,000
4. CEEPCO Contracting LLC $71,434
5. HVAC Services Inc. $7,482
Wind Turbine Controversy
The Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) has funded multiple studies in recent years to assess the impact of wind farms being developed by local communities near military bases.
In north central Montana, military officials were concerned about the building of solar panels or wind turbines near Malmstrom Air Force Base, which houses Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles. The OEA launched a land-use study to examine the issue.
The agency also participated in a joint land-use study requested by the Patuxent Naval Air Station in Maryland, where local communities considered installing wind turbines.
A Navy official warned the development of large commercial wind energy projects could interfere with base operations and degrade radar performance. The concerns include clutter, seismic noise and even flight obstructions and could slow the development of wind energy in the United States.
Land-Use Study Could Affect Area Near Malmstrom (by Karl Puckett, Great Falls Tribune)
Study To Look At Effects On Radar From Wind Turbines (by Chris Knauss, The Star Democrat)
Effects Of Wind Turbines On Radar: A Pilot Study Of US Concerns (by Trisha Auld, Murdoch University)
When Wind, Wind Turbines, And Radar Mix--A Case Study.(Case Study) (by Felix Losco and Thomas Collick, Air Force Law Review)
The Obama administration sought the establishment of a Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) in 2012. When that failed, it proposed the same idea in 2013.
In 2012, the year of a presidential election, Congress shot down the BRAC proposal.
Some observers said election-year politics was to blame for the decision, as lawmakers were unwilling to discuss another round of base closings that might affect their districts while fighting for reelection. The following year, the Pentagon called for another round of base realignment and closure as part of its fiscal 2014 budget request.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said with the department facing serious budget cuts, closing bases made sense. “You can’t have a huge infrastructure supporting a reduced force,” Panetta told Stars and Stripes.
Congress Won’t Let Panetta Close Bases (by Rowan Scarborough, Washington Times)
Pentagon Faces Tough Sell on Base Closures (by John Bennett, U.S. News & World Report)
U.S. Military Bases: Where Are They Now? (by Sean Cunningham, Esquire)
Panetta: BRAC Back on Table in 2014 DoD Budget (by Jennifer Hlad, Stars and Stripes)
Aberdeen Proving Ground Articles (Baltimore Sun)
Army Urged to Share Cost of Local BRAC Upgrades (by Timothy B. Wheeler, Baltimore Sun)
Base Closings (PBS Online NewsHour)
BRAC Failed Capacity, Financial Goals (by Lawrence J. Korb, Defense News)
The Mafia and the Ports
In January 2011, federal law enforcement arrested more than 100 alleged mobsters involved in northeast ports, including the East Coast’s largest.
The operation was described as the biggest blow ever to the mafia in the United States. But the arrests were unlikely to eradicate the mob’s presence from waterfronts, including the New York/New Jersey port.
The Financial Times noted that organized crime had taken “a back seat” to threats of international terrorism since September 11. Meanwhile, American ports were left vulnerable to Mafioso tactics of thievery, extortion and racketeering.
“I don’t think the arrests will end the mafia’s control or influence on the ports,” Stephen Taylor, director of the New Jersey attorney general’s division of criminal justice, told the Financial Times. “This reinforces the understanding that organized crime is still a problem and that it’s so entrenched it’s difficult to uproot.”
Mafia Still Holding US Ports To Ransom (by Alan Rappeport, Financial Times)
FBI's Biggest-Ever Mob Bust Shows Where Mafia Still Holds Sway (by Ron Scherer, Christian Science Monitor)