Rep. Cartwright Amendment Supporting Army Depots Added to FY2019 National Defense Authorization Act
Washington, DC – The U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously to include an amendment sponsored by Congressman Matt Cartwright (PA-17) and Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK) that supports army depots across the country, including Tobyhanna Army Depot, in the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act.
The Cartwright amendment directs the Department of Defense to do a detailed baseline accounting of trends in depot operation and workload allocation, separating out the public facility work from the work done at defense contractors either onsite or in their major production facilities across the country.
All military depots are facing a number of significant challenges, like ongoing demands from their commands for efficiencies, changes in workload projections, base realignment and closure considerations, a broadening of the definition of commercial items, and the use of rapid acquisition processes that can bypass later depot repair and upgrade work on that innovative equipment. The Cartwright amendment aims to address these issues and strengthens the long-term viability and position of Tobyhanna Army Depot by collecting detailed data on both depot operations and military repair and equipment upgrading not happening at military depots.
“The studies called for by my amendment will both highlight the capabilities of premier depots like Tobyhanna and may help bring work now being done by private contractors in other states to Tobyhanna and other federal depot facilities,” said Rep. Matt Cartwright (PA-17). “The service branches are required to keep a certain percentage of their repair work with federal workers at federal installations. This analysis is designed to reveal if they’re falling short.”
More specifically, the Cartwright amendment requires an analysis of labor hours and spending by the military service branches and their “commodity groups,” or categories of repair work on systems or equipment, over the past five years and a forecast for the next five years. It also requests a specific breakdown by core categories and programs that would otherwise meet the definition of “core,” but have not been declared as core programs of record.
“Current law requires most core repair work to be at installations like Tobyhanna, but there hasn’t been an accounting of how much of it is really being retained by private sector manufacturers,” said Cartwright. “If the distribution is out-of-whack, work needs to be shifted to depots.”
“Big West Coast, Sun Belt, and New England defense contractors don’t care about military depots, and weapon system procurers at the Pentagon who work outside the materials or repair commands may not either,” Cartwright said. “One of my roles as an Appropriations Committee member is to make them care. Depots are cost-effective and serve the public good; that’s where we should invest our defense dollars.”
Tobyhanna Army Depot, one of the largest employers in the region, supports military personnel, federal civilian workers, and local contractors hired to assist the work at the base. Many of the federal civilian workers at the base are represented by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE).
“AFGE thanks Congressman Cartwright for his continued and consistent support for federal employees, including the civilian Defense workers who support our military at home and overseas, and especially his unwavering support for Tobyhanna Army Depot. Congressman Cartwright’s amendment requires that the Pentagon provide detailed reports on how Dept. of Defense is allocating depot work across the department and between the public and private sectors. This is a groundbreaking study that will give Congress and taxpayers unprecedented insight into how our depots are functioning and if any changes are needed going forward,” said American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox, Jr.
“Congressman Matt Cartwright is a ’superstar’ for the federal workforce and our national security,” said President Carl Bisconti, AFGE Local 1647. “The federal workforce at Tobyhanna Army Depot prides themselves on a quality product for the warfighter, ensuring they perform their functions at an efficient cost to the American taxpayer. Congressman Cartwright’s amendment will give us visibility that has long been needed and is just another example of his exemplary public service.”
The National Defense Authorization Act is an annual bill that authorizes funding, programs, and changes to the Department of Defense. Today, the full House passed the bill by a vote of 351-66. The bill now heads to the Senate and is expected to eventually be signed by the president.
Congressman Cartwright is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.