As of 2014, there are over 4.2 million federal employees (2.7M in the civilian agencies and 1.5M in the military).
Over 500K are located in the DC, MD, VA tristate area.
But it's not just the numbers, it's that the headquarters of all the major government agencies are located here.
While, of course, there are backup sites, and emergency doomsday sites like Mount Weather (48 miles from DC), there is no telling how much advance notice, if any we would have, and who would escape and survive a deadly blow to our capital region.
And it could be a radiological, chemical, biological, or nuclear (RCBN) attack that does us in...whether from Russia, China, Iran, North Korea or other diabolical enemy out there.
The point is that by concentrating all our federal headquarters and senior leadership and key resources here we are in fact, giving the enemy an easy shot to decapitate the entire country?
While others (like Paul Kupiec in the WSJ) have questioned whether some of the federal agencies can be moved out to other needy cities and communities across the country for economic reasons (to bring jobs and investment) especially those agencies that are actively looking to build new HQS buildings already (e.g. FBI and Department of Labor), to me the far more potent question is one of national security.
The main advantage of having the crux of the federal government in the DC area is surely one of coordination--the President wants his Cabinet near him and the Cabinet Secretaries want their senior staff near them, and so on and so on.
So, you get this mass concentration of a who's who of the federal government in and around Washington, DC.
But what about the advances of technology?
Surely, through networks and telecommunications and teleworking, we can support a geographically diverse workforce and do no significant harm to our operating as one.
We're talking a very big cultural change here!
It's one thing to have nuclear missiles roaming the seas on attack submarines waiting for orders from Washington, DC and it's quite another to move the actual government intelligentsia and leadership out from the central hub.
Let's face it, in a real crisis situation, with the chaos and panic and transportation overflow and perhaps simultaneous cyberattacks, no one is really going to be going anywhere--especially in a surprise attack.
If Pearl Harbor (of which we just celebrated the 75th anniversary) and 9/11 teach us anything is that when the sh*t hits the fan, it hits hard and sticks solid.
Working in the Metro DC area, selfishly, I'd like to say keep the investment, jobs, and great opportunities here.
For the good of the nation and our survival against true existential threats, we'd be much smarter to spread the federal wealth as far and wide across this great nation that we can. ;-)
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)