Originally created 03/15/05

Final names due for review



Today is the deadline for government leaders to name the nine-member panel that will have a hand in determining the future of Fort Gordon and other bases subject to closure.

The nine-member Base Realignment and Closure Commission will review the Pentagon's suggested list of bases to close, which must be submitted by May 16.

The commission will review that list, analyze data and hold hearings before submitting its own recommendations to the president no later than Sept. 8.

Seven of the nine members already have been identified and recommended to the Senate, which must confirm the nominees.

Under the law that authorizes BRAC, the president gets three selections for the panel.

The speaker of the House and the Senate majority leader get two selections each, and the Senate and House minority leaders get one selection each.

For the most part, the commission looks to be a solid group of professionals, said Frank Norton, a consultant with Hurt Norton and Associates, based in Washington, D.C.

"If you're looking at the folks whose names have come forward, you find they're a very seasoned, professional group," said Mr. Norton, whose firm is a consultant for the CSRA Alliance for Fort Gordon, the Augusta area's effort to keep Fort Gordon open.

The commissioners come from a multitude of backgrounds, and two are military retirees who held the equivalent of a four-star rank in the Army and Navy. Some are former politicians, and others are businessmen.

"The best commission (has members) among all of that," said Thom Tuckey, the alliance's military expert and a former garrison commander at Fort Gordon.

He said the alliance feels good about the selection of Anthony Principi, the former Veterans Affairs secretary during the president's first term, as the head of the commission.

"When CARES came forward, he was very supportive of the VA centers here in Augusta," he said, referring to the VA's recent review of medical facilities to realign or close. "He has some knowledge of Augusta."

Stephen Moffitt, a former official at the Defense Department now working at a Virginia-based consulting firm, said there's a chance regional or service-branch preferences could come into play, but he said the commissioners probably would set that aside.

The process of confirming the nominees should be relatively smooth, Mr. Tuckey and Mr. Moffitt said.

The Senate, which will go into recess for Easter break soon, probably won't confirm the nominees until April, Mr. Moffitt said.

A nominee might withdraw, but major changes to the lineup are unlikely, he said.

"I don't see the Senate rejecting a commissioner," he said.

Reach Jeremy Craig at (706) 823-3409.

BRAC COMMISSION NOMINEES

Nominees for the nine-member commission that will review the Pentagon's suggestions for closing or realigning military installations must be submitted to the Senate by today, under the law that authorizes BRAC. As of Monday afternoon, seven of the nine members have been named by the leaders who have a say in the noninating process. President Bush must nominate two more members.

James Bilbray

Recommended by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
From: Las Vegas
Formerly: Democratic member of the House of Representatives for Nevada from 1987 until 1994
Other positions: Deputy district attorney, Clark County, Nev.; alternate judge, city of Las Vegas; member of Nevada state Senate; served in Nevada Army National Guard

John G. Coburn

Recommended by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.
From: Kentucky
Formerly: U.S. Army general (four stars), now retired
Other positions: Commanding general, U.S. Army Materiel Command; deputy chief of staff for logistics at the Pentagon, Europe and Saudi Arabia

Philip E. Coyle III

Recommended by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-CALIF.:
From: Los Angeles
Formerly: Assistant secretary of Defense and director of Operational Test and Evaluation
Other positions: Expert on missile defense systems; served as laboratory associate director and deputy to laboratory director at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

James Hansen

Recommended by Speaker Of The House Dennis Hastert, R-ILL.
From: Salt Lake City, Utah
Formerly: Republican member of the House of Representatives for Utah, 1981-2003
Other positions held: Served in the Navy; former real estate agent and insurance agent; member of the Farmington, Utah, city council; member of Utah House of Representatives

Harold W. Gehman Jr.

Recommended by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.
From: Norfolk, Va.
Formerly: U.S. Navy admiral (four stars), now retired
Other positions held: Commander in chief of the Joint Forces Command; supreme allied commander of the Atlantic; headed investigation into the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000

Samuel Skinner

Recommended by Speaker Of The House Dennis Hastert, R-ILL.
From: Illinois
Formerly: Secretary of Transportation, 1989-91
Other positions: Illinois campaign manager for George H.W. Bush in 1988; CEO of USF Corp.; president of Commonwealth Edison Co.; U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, 1975; chairman of the Regional Transportation Authority of Northeastern Illinois

Anthony Principi

Nominated by President Bush for Head of the Commission
From: Lived in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., before 2001
Formerly: Secretary of Veterans Affairs, 2001-05 and acting secretary, 1992-93
Other positions held: Named vice president for governmental affairs for Pfizer Corp. this month; senior vice president of Lockheed Martin IMS; partner in San Diego law firm of Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps; served in the Navy during the Vietnam War

BRAC TIMELINE

The dates listed are, for the most part, simply deadlines for events to occur, not specific dates on which events will definitely happen.

Today: The Senate must confirm the nine-member BRAC commission, which will review the Pentagon's recommendations for realignment and closure.

May 16: By this date, the Pentagon must submit its list of bases that it recommends to be closed or realigned. This list, the first "official" list in the process, is not final.

July 1: The Government Accountability Office releases a review of the Pentagon's recommendations for closure.

Sept. 8: President Bush receives the BRAC Commission's recommendations.

Sept. 23: Mr. Bush approves or rejects the BRAC commission's base list. If he approves it, the recommendations move to Congress, which has 45 days to accept or reject the entire list.

Oct. 20: If the list is rejected by the president, the commission's revised recommendations are submitted to the president.

Nov. 7: The president submits the revised list to Congress, if necessary.

Sources: Defense Department; National Association of Installation Developers