Kirk, Grassley, Durbin, Ernst Bill Makes Army Arsenals More Competitive

Army Arsenal Revitalization Act, S. 2516, Fixes Disadvantaged Bidding Process, Provides Flexibility for Rock Island Arsenal to Grow Manufacturing

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) today introduced legislation to expand manufacturing opportunities for Army arsenals. The Army Arsenal Revitalization Act, S. 2516, would provide Army arsenals, such as Rock Island Arsenal, the tools they needed to be more competitive, including the ability to adjust their own labor rates and to better seek new opportunities to compete for manufacturing contracts within the Department of Defense (DoD).

“The skilled workers at Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois play a vital role in maintaining military readiness and strengthening our national security,” Senator Kirk said. “Removing these unnecessary barriers will give arsenals the opportunity to compete on a level playing field and stay at the cutting edge of manufacturing.”

“Our delegation got the Government Accountability Office to identify ways the Army could better utilize the arsenals,” Senator Grassley said. “Unfortunately, the Army has not done enough to get the Rock Island Arsenal to the level of workload it needs to maintain its critical capabilities. Our bill would help make that happen.”

“When it comes to the Rock Island Arsenal, the Illinois and Iowa Congressional Delegations come together from both sides of the river, both sides of the aisle, and both sides of the Capitol,” Durbin said. “This bill would build on our ongoing efforts to help the Arsenal adapt to a changing workload and remain competitive.”

“Our nation’s arsenals are an important manufacturing component for our national defense that our military relies on,” said Senator Ernst. “Under the Army Arsenal Revitalization Act, our arsenals would be better able to seize new manufacturing opportunities, obtain and develop a skilled workforce, as well as more readily adapt to the changing demands of our workforce and Defense Department.”

Army arsenals play a vital role in our national security by adapting to the needs of the military and quickly manufacturing critical items for the warfighter. But because of outdated DoD rules that require Arsenals to set and maintain their labor rates at least a year in advance regardless of market conditions, Army arsenals face barriers to manufacturing opportunities and are often unable to maintain the skilled workforce needed to meet national security needs. S. 2516 gives Arsenals flexibility to adjust their labor rates throughout the year and requires DoD to identify work opportunities the arsenals are uniquely qualified to meet.

The Army Arsenal Revitalization Act would:

Give Army arsenals flexibility to stay viable and competitive.

  • o The bill creates a three-year pilot program to allow arsenals to adjust their labor rates based on market conditions and workload changes.
  • o Currently, arsenals must maintain fixed labor rates through the entire year, making it difficult for them to compete for contracts or form public-private partnerships.

Increase competition for DoD contracts.

  • o The bill requires DoD to consider Army arsenals to produce certain legacy items no longer manufactured by the private sector and sole source contracts produced non-competitively by only one vendor.
  • o Increasing competition opens new opportunities for arsenals to keep their workforces employed and diversely skilled.

Identify arsenals’ critical capabilities to meet national security needs.

  • o The bill requires the DoD to identify the critical capabilities of each arsenal to meet national security needs and determine the minimum workloads necessary to maintain those skills.

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