Looking Back on BRAC: Fort Meade, Anne Arundel County, Maryland

DISA Headquarters

With more than 56,000 employees—including about 5,700 new jobs that have resulted from BRAC-related movements—Fort George G. Meade is the largest employer in Maryland, the fifth-largest employment center in the state, and has the third-largest workforce of any U.S. Army installation. The BRAC-related construction completed at Fort Meade last summer (2011) includes new facilities for the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), Defense Adjudication Activities, and Defense Media Activity.

Located between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, just west of Odenton, Fort Meade began as an active Army installation in 1917; it was one of 16 cantonments built for troops drafted for World War I. The fort was named for Major General George Gordon Meade, who led the Union Army to victory in the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War. In the 1950s, it became the headquarters of the National Security Agency (NSA). Today, it calls itself “the nation’s preeminent center for information and intelligence.” Its primary mission is to support the Cyber and Information Assurance Centers of the U.S. Departments of Defense and Homeland Security.

BRAC 2005 added three major commands to Fort Meade. DISA, the largest organization to relocate there, brought 4,300 workers to a new 1.1 million-square-foot headquarters—the largest office complex in Anne Arundel County. DISA relocated from Arlington, Va. (where the agency had been located since its inception in 1960); so did a smaller agency, Defense Media Activity, which brought 600 employees to a new 185,000-square-foot headquarters housing state-of-the-art television, radio and print media production facilities. Finally, Defense Adjudication Activities has relocated more than 760 employees from ten different agencies into a new 150,000-square-foot facility at Fort Meade.

Looking beyond BRAC, Fort Meade expects to continue to reap huge benefits from the rapidly expanding fields of cybersecurity and information assurance. The NSA is expanding its presence there, almost doubling the footprint of its cyber command center—by 5.8 million square feet—in a multiphase construction effort that is expected to cost between $4 billion and $5 billion and take up to 20 years. In addition, 26 new defense contractors have established a presence on or near Fort Meade in recent years, and 51 others have expanded their presence there.

In the surrounding region, more than 5.4 million square feet of office space is being planned or under construction. Recognizing that this new development will be needed to accommodate the many private sector firms that need to be near Fort Meade, the Army has designated a nearby area as an Enhanced Use Lease (EUL) zone. As it is doing at Aberdeen Proving Ground the EUL allows Fort Meade to ground lease “temporarily underutilized” land and to use the proceeds from that lease for facility improvements and maintenance. The Fort Meade EUL zone is expected to accommodate as many as 10,000 new jobs in a ten-building, 1.7 million-square-foot office park.

NSA Headquarters