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U.S. Rep Tsongas speaks to HRA
HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. - U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas addresses members of the Hanscom community and industry partners during a Hanscom Representatives Association meeting at the Minuteman Commons June 27. The meeting provided an opportunity for those in attendance to ask the congresswoman questions and get her insight into a variety of areas, including her work on the House Armed Services Committee, the importance of small businesses, national security and cybersecurity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mark Herlihy)
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U.S. Rep. Tsongas encourages communication

Posted 6/30/2014   Updated 6/30/2014 Email story   Print story


by Patty Welsh
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

6/30/2014 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas highlighted the role industry can play in communicating information during a presentation to the Hanscom Representatives Association meeting at the Minuteman Commons June 27.

HRA provides an opportunity for interaction between Hanscom's acquisition community and current and potential industry members.

During the meeting, Tsongas said she's an advocate for Hanscom AFB and other military installations in the area, and has invited senior leaders, such as the Air Force chief of staff to visit; however, she thinks industry has an important role to play too. She encouraged industry partners to share their experiences.

"[You] need to be out there promoting the relationships you have with installations, how it benefits you, how it leads to job creation or helps you innovate," she said. "You have an important role in communicating."

As personnel in the audience expressed concerns about the potential for another base realignment and closure process, the congresswoman emphasized there would not be one this year but added that every service says they have about 20 percent more capacity than needed. She said that is why it's necessary to share the importance of the mission at Hanscom.

When asked if her colleagues are knowledgeable about the industrial base in Massachusetts, the Congresswoman said it is well understood that the state is "without peer" in regard to its capacity to innovate and its synergy between private organizations, universities and research facilities. However, she did say that the work done by Hanscom and its industry partners is "highly technical," making it a challenge for people to understand it and encouraged the personnel in attendance to use stories.

Tsongas herself told a story about returning from Afghanistan and sitting next to a contractor who was doing some work on the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node, or BACN, which is managed out of Hanscom. She said by talking to him she got a better understanding for the connectivity BACN provides and how the technology works to protect our servicemembers on the ground.

"I don't think it's always been well understood what Hanscom does," she said. "My challenge is to better communicate what value is added militarily."

When talking about the National Defense Authorization Act and the current constrained fiscal environment, Tsongas said the Budget Control Act got very little resistance. However, when sequestration was enacted, there was no room for discretion and service chiefs fear this could lead to a reduction in readiness. The larger issue, she said, is that spending is being done "beyond our means" and it's a "huge challenge." Tsongas said the answer needs to be a holistic solution where "everyone plays a part."

Her recommendation to industry partners as to how they could help was to be "thoughtful." There are no longer unlimited sources of funds, she said, adding that the American people are tired of large-scale, highly ambitious programs that may not lead to results, but she also cautioned that "we don't want to close the door on innovation."

In addition to her main focus, the congresswoman also spoke about her relationship with the Massachusetts Military Asset Task Force, recent briefings on acquisition reform, information about the Veterans Administration, and about work regarding sexual assault prevention and response in the military.

She told the audience that she is proud of what of what they do, and to "never hesitate to reach out to us."

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