For more than 50 years, DOE and its predecessor agencies produced materials to manufacture nuclear weapons and conduct activities for the Manhattan Engineer District. To accommodate these activities, more than 20,000 facilities throughout the country were built, a large contractor work force was established, and communities were transformed. President George H.W. Bush’s announcement of the first unilateral nuclear weapons reduction agreement on September 27, 1991, signaled the end of the Cold War and dramatically reduced the need for further nuclear weapons production.
DOE is committed to alleviating the negative impact of its changing mission on its contractor work force, who were instrumental in accomplishing DOE’s nuclear weapons production mission, by ensuring the continuity of their pension and medical benefits. DOE is also helping affected communities by providing community transition grants. Through Section 3161 of the Defense Authorization Act of 1993, DOE initiated a community transition program to minimize the social and economic impacts of work force restructuring on communities surrounding DOE facilities. The program encouraged affected communities to chart their own economic development future through the creation of Community Reuse Organizations (CROs). DOE also transfers excess real property to CROs for economic development through Title 10 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 770 and excess personal property through the Hall Amendment. A CRO is an organization recognized by DOE that can receive grants for programs that alleviate the impacts of work force restructuring at DOE facilities.
Since the program’s inception, 15 communities have established CROs and Congress has authorized $260.5 million and DOE has provided an additional $34.1 million for a total of $294.6 million funding for community transition activities. With these funds, the CROs collectively created a total of 50,934 jobs in their communities at a cost of $5,719 per job. Funding, however, for community activities has declined sharply in recent years and is not expected to continue.