DISA's BRAC move to Ft. Meade underway

Wednesday - 1/19/2011, 9:40am EST

Jack Penkoske; Director; Manpower, Personnel and Security; DISA

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

For the past two weekends, the Defense Information Systems Agency has been moving employees to Fort Meade. It is part of the ongoing BRAC relocation.

Jack Penkoske, Director for Manpower, Personnel and Security for DISA, told Federal News Radio that 150 employees have made the move so far with 4,150 to go.

"Two weekends ago, on the 8th of January, we had a little beta test of about 40 people. This past Saturday we had another about 130 employees, and then it just keeps going. Every weekend we will move between 150 and 200 employees until we get everybody up there." The move, said Penkoske, should be complete by the end of July "but it's a huge effort."

Penkoske described the process.

"The employees have to pack it all into crates. They are all marked. The day before that too, the computers and everything else are packed up and taken up to Fort Meade."

Then professional movers swooped in. "They started at 6 am, had them all on the truck by 8 am and had them all unloaded up at Fort Meade at 10:30 in the morning." That works out to 130 employees moved in 270 minutes, or just over two minutes per employee. "It's a very efficient and well planned out process," said Penkoske, "and hopefully it'll continue like that through July."

Of course, "there's always problems" in the early phases, he said. They found glitches with IT connectivity with computers, and issues with phones, but "our CIO has a very robust group up there and a helpdesk up there, so that the minute the employees have a problem, they call the helpdesk and they react to it."

Asked if there's anything employees should know about the move, Penkoske advised, "pack early and make sure you clean everything out because there's only so much stuff you can take. When the movers get there, they gobble it up right away, so they need to plan early and not start thinking about it as they get down to the last day."

Once there, Penkoske said he's looking forward to the benefits of having all 4,300 employees on one campus. On the downside, he noted for some, the commute is going to change drastically. For those not moving up to the area, "having transportation options available to them is a big issue." It may take trial and error for a few weeks for employees who stay in northern Virginia to figure out the best way to get there.

For other agencies making large moves, Penkoske said it may "sound kind of obvious, but you cannot do enough planning up front." DISA, for example, has planned its move down to knowing where every employee is going to sit. "Overplanning and then overcommunicating to your workforce is the best thing to do."

This story is part of Federal News Radio's daily DoD Report. For more defense news, click here.