The grand opening of the glitzy new headquarters of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) at Fort Meade took place last Friday in a ceremony attended by some of the nation’s top military staff and members of Maryland’s state government.
DISA, who are relocating to the new 1.1 million sq foot complex from Northern Virginia, will finalize the move by August of this year. So far, 1,700 of its 4,300 staff are working in the new facility.
Constructed by Hensel Phelps Construction, the gleaming complex proudly boasts a 140,000 sq foot IT lab, and was the recipient of a US Green Building Council LEED Sliver Certification. Set on a 95 acre estate, the buildings IT infrastructure alone is said to be worth $120 million.
DISA is just the first of three government agencies to relocate to Fort Meade this year, due to the closure of BRAC activities and federal base realignment. The other two agencies to move are the Defense Adjudication and the Defense Media Activities offices.
State officials and Congressmen were quick to praise the financial prospects for Maryland. “It will mean lots of new jobs,” said Senator Ben Cardin. “I’m not talking about people just relocating here, but also Maryland’s contractors. It will help the local economy.”
There has been some criticism however. Some officials have pointed out that local infrastructure and roadways will be unable to cope with the extra traffic without much-needed improvements. So far, they have not been forthcoming due to budgetary constraints.
Officials hope to gain federal aid to help with upgrades to the area’s infrastructure. Last month, C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersburger, a local representative, proposed a bill that called for one-off financial assistance for improvements to local infrastructure when related to activities of BRAC.
The director of DISA, Lt. Gen. Carroll Pollett, also acknowledged concerns in his formal address at the ceremony, even mentioning his regret that a local chaplain couldn’t make it to the function on time due to being held up in traffic. He did point out though, that DISA’s day to day running would not be affected by the issue.
“Infrastructure is always a challenge,” he said. “But significant work is underway. It will be an inconvenience but things are going to improve”.
In response to the challenges, DISA is operating a number of bus services for workers traveling from Northern Virginia, and is working hard to promote alternatives to driving to work.