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NAGE v. RUMSFELD

May 14, 1976

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, ET AL., Plaintiffs,
v.
DONALD H. RUMSFELD, Secretary of Defense, ET AL., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GASCH

 Before Honorable Oliver Gasch, Judge.

 This case involves a challenge to the decision of the Department of Defense to realign certain military operations at the Pueblo Army Depot (PUAD), Pueblo, Colorado. This action of the defendants will result in the loss of approximately 1800 civilian jobs out of a total civilian workforce at PUAD of 2600. Plaintiffs are the National Association of Government Employees (Union), three PUAD employees and union officers, and the Congressional representative for the Third Congressional District of Colorado in which PUAD is geographically located. They seek to enjoin the continued implementation of the realignment alleging that (1) the realignment discriminates against plaintiffs and their putative class on the basis of their national origin (Spanish-American) in violation of the Fifth Amendment and 42 U.S.C. § 1981, and (2) that the defendants have failed to comply with the procedural requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. § 4321, et seq., and the Environmental Quality Improvement Act of 1970, 42 U.S.C. § 4371, et seq., in deciding to implement the realignment. Before the Court at this juncture is the defendants' motion to dismiss or in the alternative for summary judgment, and plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction. Upon consideration of the entire record herein and the oral argument of counsel, the Court has determined that the defendants are entitled to summary judgment on both the discrimination claim and the environmental claim.

 FACTUAL BACKGROUND

 The actions of the defendants which plaintiffs seek to enjoin are of two categories: (1) the realignment of Army missile maintenance and supply operations from PUAD to other military installations and (2) the transfer of the Improved Hawk Missile Conversion Program together with approximately 752 employees from PUAD to Letterkenny Army Depot at Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

 The Realignment. The Pueblo Army Depot is one of several supply, maintenance and storage installations under the command of the Department of the Army's central logistics organization, the Materiel Development and Readiness Command. On November 22, 1974, the Secretary of Defense announced the realignment of PUAD under "Project Concise," a program resulting from the Congressionally mandated reduction in military forces following the conclusion of the war in Vietnam. The Army's missile maintenance program is carried on at five Army depot sites including PUAD. Since the fiscal year 1968 the workload of this program has steadily declined resulting in a substantial under-utilization of Army missile maintenance capability, and a corresponding decline in the supply mission of these depots. The Army developed three alternatives for dealing with the declining workload at PUAD in view of the overall objective of "continued effective logistics support to the Army in the most economical and efficient manner possible." *fn1" Eventually the Army chose the alternative that transferred the majority of the missile maintenance workload at PUAD to other depots. The Army considered potential personnel unrest as an important factor in its determination but felt that this factor was outweighed by the benefits of the realignment. These benefits included an estimated recurring savings of $18.08 million and an estimated avoidance of one-time costs of $1.15, as compared to one-time phase down costs of approximately $4.96 million. Concurrent with this consideration of the various alternatives proposed for the realignment, the Army prepared an environmental assessment of the realignment. This assessment was derived from a previous assessment of the environmental impact of PUAD as an on going installation on the surrounding region. The assessment concluded that although a "major federal action," a significant environmental impact would not result from the realignment, and that the plan would not be environmentally controversial. Therefore, the Army concluded that an environmental impact statement need not be prepared.

 At oral argument counsel for the defendants indicated that the personnel drawdown accompanying this realignment was 72% completed and scheduled for completion in June, 1976, by which time approximately 800 civilian jobs would be eliminated.

 The Improved Hawk Missile Conversion Program. This program involves the conversion of the outdated basic Hawk Missile to the Improved Hawk Missile System. By its very nature this program will terminate when all of the outdated missiles have been converted. The conversion program is presently being conducted at PUAD. At the time of the realignment decision it was also announced that the Army would complete the conversion program by June 30, 1977. The Army later felt that this schedule was in danger because of work slippage at PUAD. Thus plans were made to transfer the conversion program to the Letterkenny Army Depot in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. On October 29, 1975, the Army Materiel Command announced that this relocation constituted a transfer of function for affected employees at PUAD. These employees were informed by letter that they could choose to transfer to Pennsylvania and retain their positions. This planned transfer, however, was cancelled as of February 13, 1976. Defendants presently indicate that all Improved Hawk conversion work will remain at PUAD to the extent of workforce capability and that no workload or workforce associated with the conversion program will be transferred from PUAD without the predicate of an environmental impact assessment.

 DISCRIMINATION CLAIM

 The focal point of plaintiffs' discrimination claim is that approximately one-half of the PUAD workforce are Spanish-Americans, and that the "realignment" will reduce the total number of Spanish-American civilian employees at PUAD by approximately 850, or by 6.6 percent of the total number of Spanish-American employees of the Army in the United States. This "statistical imbalance," it is argued, constitutes discrimination per se on the basis of national origin. The realignment, therefore, plaintiffs argue, violates the equal protection component of the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment, as well as 42 U.S.C. § 1981.

 Defendants argue, inter alia, that the Court lacks jurisdiction to review the decision of the Secretary of Defense to realign PUAD. Such a matter, it is argued, is committed solely to the discretion of the Secretary by statute:

 
Subject to section 401 of title 50, the Secretary of Defense shall take appropriate action (including the transfer, reassignment, consolidation, or abolition of any function, power, or duty) to provide more effective, efficient, and economical administration and operation, and to eliminate duplication, in the Department of Defense . . . .

 10 U.S.C. § 125(a) (1970). Plaintiffs, it is alleged, do not contest the Secretary's statutory authority to realign PUAD nor do they contend that the decision is not based on a consideration of the relevant factors of administrative and operational effectiveness, efficiency, and economy and the elimination of duplication. Thus the Secretary's decision of November 22, 1974, has a rational basis, is not arbitrary nor capricious, and being a discretionary decision is not subject to further judicial review. As this Court said in Local 1106, Nat'l Federation of Federal Employees v. Laird, 318 F. Supp. 153, 155 (D.D.C. 1970), "the Government's management functions in the area of national defense are committed to the unreviewable discretion of the executive, leaving the Court without subject matter jurisdiction of plaintiffs' complaint." See also, Gilligan v. Morgan, 413 U.S. 1, 10, 37 L. Ed. 2d 407, 93 S. Ct. 2440 (1973); Orloff v. Willoughby, 345 U.S. 83, 93-94, 97 L. Ed. 842, 73 S. Ct. 534 (1953).

 These cases, however, did not involve claims of discrimination on the basis of national origin. In such a circumstance the Court may arguably have jurisdiction to review a decision of the Secretary. Nonetheless, even upon such review the Court is convinced that ...


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