Durbin: GAO Report Shows Need for DOD to Make Maximum Use of Army's Strategic Plan on Arsenals

Report requested by Illinois and Iowa Senators recommends steps to maximize Rock Island Arsenal’s workload

[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today made the following statement after reviewing the recommendations contained in a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report he requested – along with U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Chuck Grassley (R-IL) and former U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IL) – as part of the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  Next month, Durbin will be meeting with President Obama’s nominee to be Secretary of the Army, Eric Fanning, to discuss this report.


“This report provides an important, independent third party review of how the Department of Defense is using capabilities at three Arsenals – including Rock Island Arsenal – designated as Centers of Industrial and Technical Excellence,” said Durbin.  “It confirms what we already know: that the Department of Defense is underutilizing these Arsenals and lacks a strategic plan to increase workloads.  There has been some progress over the last couple of years: new workload has increased, the Humvee production line has been renewed, operations are more efficient and the JMTC receives almost 35% of its work from non-Army sources.  But more can be done, and I look forward to discuss the results of this report in an upcoming meeting with President Obama’s Army Secretary nominee.”


The GAO’s report assesses the extent to which the Army has fully implemented its strategic plan for arsenals – a plan itself first created by Durbin and the Quad Cities delegation in 2012 – and outlines areas in need of additional attention. The report recommends that the Department of Defense issue implementing guidance for make-or-buy analyses; identify fundamental elements for implementing its strategic plan; and develop and implement its process for identifying critical capabilities and the minimum workload level needed to sustain them


As the Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, Durbin has worked to:


  • Improve Rock Island Arsenal’s Competitiveness: The Omnibus Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2015 includes $225 million in funding for Industrial Mobilization Capacity (IMC) to help arsenals keep their work rates competitive. This funding helps Rock Island Arsenal and other arsenals compete more effectively for public-private partnerships and other business to help sustain capacity, cost efficiency and technical competence in peacetime, while preserving the ability to provide an effective and timely response to mobilizations, national defense contingency situations and other emergent requirements. Durbin included a similar provision in the Department of Defense Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2014.


  • Extend Rock Island Arsenal’s Humvee Ambulance Production Line: In April, Durbin and U.S. Representative Cheri Bustos (D-IL) announced the extension of the Rock Island Arsenal’s Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center production line for two years as a result of the $60 million they added to the Fiscal Year 2015 Defense Appropriations bill.


  • Ensure a Steady, Higher Level Workload: Durbin has worked to include language in Fiscal Year 2014 NDAA directed the Secretary of the Army to maintain a minimum workload at Rock Island Arsenal (and the arsenals in New York and Arkansas). This is similar to a provision Durbin originally authored as part of his Defense Appropriation Bill for Fiscal Year 2014 to require the Secretary of the Army to maintain a minimum workload at arsenals as calculated by the Army Organic Industrial Base Strategy Report. Durbin also included a similar directive in the Defense Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2015, and this appropriator-authorizer consensus – for the first time this year – sends a strong signal of Congressional support for arsenals. 


  • Putting Arsenals on a Level Playing Field with Other Military Installations: The Fiscal Year 2014 NDAA also included a provision that eliminates the Secretary of the Army’s current authority to close an arsenal if he deems it necessary. This provision puts arsenals on a level playing field with other military installations, and ensures that any change in status can only be made through a standard process.