: News

Defense Efficiency Initiatives Could Have Huge Effect on Local Economy

Play associated audio

By Jonathan Wilson

The nation's Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, wants his department to be more efficient and has ordered a 10 percent reduction each year for the next three years in funding for defense contractors.

It's a decision that could have huge ramifications for the Northern Virginia economy.

Jerry Gordon is the president of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. He says he's concerned about Secretary Gates' announcement, but he says scaling back on defense contracting is a hit Fairfax County can take.

"It won't devastate the economy; this isn't Pittsburgh in the 70's where they lost steel, and it isn't Boeing in the 70's when they left Seattle," he says. "The reason for that is that we have diversified the economy."

Stephen Fuller, director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University, isn't quite as confident that Fairfax or the rest of Northern Virginia has diversified enough.

He says Virginia received $35 billion in federal procurement dollars in 2008. That means a 10 percent cut in federal procurement, much of which comes from the Department of Defense, would amount to $3.5 billion. That's about how much Virginia's expected to grow in this first year of the recovery so to give this some order of magnitude, this would, in effect, erase the recovery next year.

Fuller says he's not sure Secretary Gates' idea of increasing shipbuilding efforts in Virginia would actually offset the impact of cuts in funding for contractors, but he says it's also unclear whether Gates can actually follow through with the cuts, since so much contracting work is essential.

WAMU 88.5

Anne Tyler: "A Spool Of Blue Thread" (Rebroadcast)

In her first live radio interview ever, Pulitzer Prize winning author Anne Tyler joins Diane to talk about her 20th novel, "A Spool of Blue Thread."


Fine Brine From Appalachia: The Fancy Mountain Salt That Chefs Prize

An artisanal salt producer is processing brine from ancient ocean deposits below West Virgina's mountains. The company, J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works, ships to top chefs who value the salt's minerality.

Downed Russian Warplane Highlights Regional Divide On Syria

Hugh Pope, director of communications and outreach at the International Crisis Group in Brussels, explains the growing divide between Turkey and Russia on their priorities inside Syria.

From Takeout To Breakups: Apps Can Deliver Anything, For A Price

Convenience is at an all-time premium — and a lot of smartphone apps promise to make many of the things we do every day easier. In a time-crunch or sheer laziness, how far will the apps take us?

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.