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Indy defense accounting jobs appear safe

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The Defense Finance and Accounting Service headquarters on the northeast side of Indianapolis appears to have dodged a bullet from two Ohio congressmen who sought to raid 225 Marine Corps payroll jobs planned for the center.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat, and Rep. Steven LaTourette, a Republican, in February asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates to move the Indianapolis jobs to a DFAS center in Cleveland.

But it appears the Department of Defense has shot down Kucinich and LaTourette’s plan, according to a letter mailed to the Buckeyes this month.

“The Department continues to support the U.S. Marine Corps’ decision to relocate the [employees] to Indianapolis,” Undersecretary of Defense Ashton Carter wrote.

Among the Hoosier delegation opposing the attempted raid by Kucinich and LaTourette was U.S. Rep. Andre Carson, D-Indianapolis.

“We’re in the process of reconfirming that this letter closes the door officially on this issue,” said Justin Ohlemiller, district director of Carson’s Indianapolis office.

“So far, all indications from DOD point to everything proceeding as planned” with the positions heading to Indianapolis. “But, as long as there’s an effort to raid the local DFAS facility of these workers, we’ll continue to fight it,” Ohlemiller said Friday.

Carson’s grandmother, the late-Congresswoman Julia Carson, had worked to help land the Marine Corps jobs during the Defense Department’s base realignment process about five years ago.

The Marine Corps payroll workers are among about 1,000 people being transferred to the Indianapolis facility as a result of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission, or BRAC, determination. Several DFAS facilities have been shut down or are being closed, including those in Denver and Kansas City.

The Indianapolis facility employed 2,600 just a few years ago. That number should settle out at about 3,600 this year, said DFAS spokesman Tom LaRock.   

Kucinich and LaTourette said the BRAC commission determined that all Marine Corps DFAS jobs would be based in Cleveland, “but were erroneously diverted to DFAS Indianapolis.”

Their letter to Gates states that Cleveland officials in 2007 learned the jobs would go to Indianapolis instead because of a computer system used here that the Marine Corps would be adopting. But the Marine Corps later opted out of that new system.

“The rational basis for these Marine Corps jobs relocating to Indianapolis is obsolete. We ask that you immediately enforce the decision of the BRAC Commission to relocate these jobs to Cleveland as recommended,” the Ohio congressmen said in their letter to Gates.

But in the April 5 letter to Kucinich and LaTourette, DOD undersecretary Carter said the computer system was only one of several factors in the selection of Indianapolis, including the need to work with the Military Pay System Development Office and the Financial Management Center of Excellence – both part of the Indianapolis DFAS.

The Indianapolis facility at 8899 E. 56th St. processes pay for active soldiers and retirees.

The shift of about 1,000 jobs to the massive facility at the former Fort Benjamin Harrison has left AT&T Indiana scrambling to provide 10,000 consecutive direct-dial phone lines to DFAS.

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