- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
In an updated report from the U.S. Navy, Naval Support Facility Indian Head was responsible for $10.9 million in defense contracts — up 8.5 percent from last fiscal year and $322.2 million in civilian payroll dollars — up 9.3 percent — in fiscal 2013.
Last year, a report indicated that the naval base had generated $9.3 million in defense contracts and more than $301 million payroll dollars. Defense contract figures for both fiscal years include contract companies in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
The federal government’s fiscal year runs from October to September. Fiscal data for 2013 was available for all but one command at NSF Indian Head, Joint Interoperability Test Command.
Jeron Hayes, public affairs specialist for Naval Support Activity South Potomac, said that despite furloughs last summer and the government shutdown in October, a minimal effect was felt by NSF Indian Head. In July, 97 percent of the base’s employees were affected by furloughs until September.
“I would say there was very little impact from [the government shutdown and furloughs],” Hayes said, adding that furloughs originally were to affect employees for 22 days, but only six furlough days were taken in the end. The government shutdown, which began Oct. 1, affected NSF Indian Head employees for no more than four days, and all employees affected by the shutdown received back pay when the shutdown ended, so wages and salaries did not decrease.
Becky D’Ambrosio, director of the corporate communications division for Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division, said NSF Indian Head brought $10.9 million in local defense contracts for 2013. Last year, the naval base was responsible for $9.3 million.
Both figures include companies that contract with NSF Indian Head in Charles, St. Mary’s and Prince George’s counties, as well as King George, Stafford, Spotsylvania, Caroline and Westmoreland counties and the City of Fredericksburg in Virginia.
The economic report for 2013 was affected, however, Hayes pointed out, by the merging of Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head Division, and the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division, into Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division since the release of 2012’s economic report.
The combined payroll for federal civilian employees and military personnel totaled more than $337 million, with an additional $217 million in defense contract spending allocated to companies in Southern Maryland, according to the report.
“We really appreciate the community support and are glad to be able to give back by saying here is what we give [in defense contracts and payroll dollars],” Hayes said.
While the Navy reported that 71 percent of the naval base’s employees lived in Charles County in 2012, in 2013 Charles County was home to 65.7 percent of employees at NSF Indian Head. Most of the rest of the workforce calls Prince George’s and St. Mary’s counties home. Almost 6 percent commute from Virginia.
Hayes said the decrease of residents working at the naval base and living in Charles County is attributable to “natural attrition.” Before budget cuts and furloughs, Hayes said the Department of Defense anticipated a significant portion of its civilian employees being of retirement age. No positions were lost in the furloughs or government shutdown.
Kwasi Holman, director of the county’s department of economic development, wrote in an email statement that the naval base’s economic impact on Charles County “is undeniable, and we are always glad to see reports like this confirming and quantifying that impact.”
“We intend to keep working with the base leadership and private sector partners to always protect this important asset and find ways to continue building on it,” Holman wrote.
Holman said the county’s economic development department, the county administrator’s office, the county commissioners and the county’s business community “keep the activities at the Indian Head base at the top of the priority list for economic development.”
“We’re very proud of Indian Head and the work that has been done there,” Charles County Commissioner Ken Robinson (D) said. “It’s a historical asset.”
Robinson said the construction of a new steam distribution system at the naval base “is a vote of confidence from the Pentagon that what is going on [at NSF Indian Head] is vital.” The $62.45 million project will decrease the naval base’s energy costs and replace the Goddard Power Plant, which was built in 1957.
Charles County commissioners’ President Candice Quinn Kelly (D) said U.S. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md., 5th) helped secure $15.3 million in the president’s fiscal 2015 budget for an advanced engineering laboratory at NSF Indian Head.
“When you combine what we have [at NSF Indian Head] with Pax River, it’s a very bright future,” Kelly said, referring to the research on unmanned vehicles at NSF Indian Head.
Kelly serves as the representative of the Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland on the Joint Land Use Study among Charles County, the town of Indian Head and NSF Indian Head. She said she is “very optimistic about the future of Indian Head.”
“When the [federal] government invests that kind of money in Indian Head, it’s a huge plus, and it’s exciting,” Kelly said.
For fiscal 2013, the U.S. Navy reported that NSF Indian Head employed 3,000 people as of early 2013, including 1,988 civilians, 575 military personnel stationed in a permanent duty status and more than 460 defense contractor employees.
The Navy’s report for fiscal 2012 stated more than 3,400 were employed at the naval base in early 2013.
NSF Indian Head acquired its current name in 2005. The base shares its host command, NSASP, with Naval Support Facility Dahlgren in Virginia. NSF Indian Head consists of 12 commands. Originally known as the Naval Proving Ground, the naval base was the Navy’s first established presence in Southern Maryland in 1890. The base served as a major producer of smokeless gunpowder for the Navy in World War I.