Patrick O’Brien: Defense Budget Issues Also Affect Local Communities

Patrick O’Brien, director of the Office of Economic Adjustment at the Pentagon, said the lack of stable funding for the U.S. military  affects communities surrounding military bases across the U.S.

He said during a speech at Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., that in 2013 local communities and states felt the full effects of the Budget Control Act of 2011, when the budget sequestration began, the agency said Tuesday.

O’Brien said temporary funding that forced the department to suspend some operations at installations also affected civilians who relied on defense dollars. Two examples include the recent closure of an Army tank plant in Ohio and the downsizing of an Air Force installation in North Dakota left the communities with fewer jobs.

To help state officials and residents retain a labor force and anticipate delayed defense funding, the Defense Spending by State report was issued providing information on DoD personnel data and contracting information. The document helps state and local officials support local economies, understand the supply chain and the local labor force, O’Brien said.

“If I’m a governor or a local official, I’d want to know where the spending is going, how to preserve that spending or diversify,” he said. “You’re talking about livelihoods and national security.”

O’Brien said emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence and cybersecurity, are among the areas offering communities with new job opportunities in the military.

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