President Obama last week signed the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2012, which outlines how the government plans to fund the national defense and care for troops and their families. The signing ends a tense period of uncertainty for DOD employees and contractors.
There’s a lot in the 500-page bill that could impact people living in the area of Fort Meade, Odenton and Severn, including details on military pay and benefits, as well as the role of growing agencies at Fort Meade.
Here are five items from the bill that might be of interest locally.
Fort Meade Gets $79 Million for Construction—Section 2101 of the bill sets aside $79 million to allow for land acquisition and military construction projects at Fort Meade. Most of the money will go to three projects: an applied instruction facility ($43 million), a brigade complex ($36 million) and a high performance computer ($29.6 million).
Soldiers Will Get a Bit More Money—According to the Armed Forces Press Service, the bill increases the pay of active duty and reserve pay by about 1.6 percent.
Cyber Command Gets a Boost—United States Cyber Command, which was formally erected at Fort Meade in 2009, is expected to bring thousands of new jobs to the area over the next several years. It’s clear in the Defense Authorization Act that the development and strengthening of the U.S. Cyber Command is a big priority. In Section 931, the act gives the Secretary of Defense the power to “develop and implement a plan to augment the cybersecurity strategy of the Department of Defense.” In Section 1076, the act authorizes a study to “recruit, retain and develop” cyberspace experts.
The act also authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to identify a “Director of Cybersecurity Coordination” and asks for a plan to improve the U.S. Cyber Command’s ability to protect DOD networks. This is all worth watching as people in the area look to see how U.S. Cyber Command expands at Fort Meade.
Contractor Pay Will Be Capped—Under past laws, there was no restriction on how much money the government would reimburse to most workers for their compensation under a contract. Now, according to Federal Times, there’s a limit of $693,951. That limit had previously existed only for senior executives.
TRICARE Fees for Retirees Could Rise—GovExec.com reports that for retirees enrolled in TRICARE Prime, their costs would go up according to their pay increases that year. That represents a $30 to $60 annual hike, depending on the plan. Active-duty members, however, would not pay any out-of-pocket expenses.