Schumer secures commitment; New Secretary of Defense to visit Rome lab

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In a personal meeting with Mark Esper, who was just confirmed by the Senate to be the next U.S. Secretary of Defense, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today touted Rome Lab’s importance to the nation’s cyber defense network, and received a commitment that he would visit the first-rate facility as soon as possible. Schumer said that never before has a Secretary of Defense visited Rome Lab, and called Esper’s upcoming trip long-overdue and much-appreciated.

In their meeting, Schumer explained that, over the years, Rome Lab has established itself as a leader in the military community in gathering cyber intelligence. Schumer also said that Rome Lab’s essential work in serving as a research and development, communications and strategic planning facility for U.S. Air Force (USAF) personnel has allowed it to continue providing good-paying, high-tech jobs to hundreds of airmen and civilians in the Mohawk Valley. Therefore, as part of his goal to increase science and technology investments in Rome Lab, he urged Esper to visit Rome, and was pleased to hear, “Yes,” in response.

“In an era of constant hacking, cyber-spying and cyber-terror, Rome Lab is at the vanguard of countering cyber threats. It is also an economic engine for the Mohawk Valley, employing over 1,000 talented intelligence and communications personnel,” said Senator Schumer. “That’s why I made it clear to nominee Esper that he needs to be a partner in keeping Rome Lab at the epicenter of cyber-defense and cutting-edge communications. Visiting Rome Lab will give him the chance to see, in person, the work this first-rate facility is doing to protect our nation’s cyber defense network, as well as the innovation and spin-off economic activity the Mohawk Valley has come to enjoy as a result of DOD’s presence.”

Schumer explained that Rome Lab, the Information Directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory, is a national leader in communications and cyber technology in the heart of the Mohawk Valley. Located in Oneida County, one of its primary focuses is gathering and processing cyber intelligence. Since 1997, it has been the USAF’s “Superlab” and is considered the nation’s premier research organization for Command, Control, Communications, Cyber and Intelligence (C4I) technologies. The lab focuses on developing information technology for air, space and ground systems, in addition to partnering with other federal agencies, universities and other state and local governments.

Rome Lab is a source of growth for the regional economy and a major source of employment. According to the USAF, it is estimated that Rome Lab generates over $290 million in total economic growth in Central New York, including over 2,400 direct and indirect jobs supported with a payroll of roughly $191 million. The lab generates more than $100 million in expenditures in the Central NY area and spawned more than $6.6 million in economic impact among visitors between 2010 and 2014 alone. Because of Rome Lab’s strong commitment to excellence in developing and enhancing this nation’s cybersecurity infrastructure, as well as its commitment to employing local residents with good-paying jobs, Schumer has long fought to ensure Rome Labs has what it needs to succeed and maintain its strong Central NY workforce. In the Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019 defense budgets, Schumer helped deliver $243 million and $245 million for Rome Lab’s operations and personnel, respectively. That funding included over $13 million directly secured by Schumer for Rome Lab to establish critical components of its Quantum Computing Center of Excellence.

The Lab is using the funding to create an “open campus” ecosystem where researchers from the Air Force, Department of Defense (DOD), government, industry, small business community, and academia can collaborate to solve different computing problems using quantum computing technology, making it a leader in this emerging field. Additionally, in the Fiscal Year 2019 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related (MILCON-VA) Appropriations bill, Schumer fought for and secured $14.2 in federal funding for Rome Lab to construct a new perimeter fence, boosting anti-terrorism security.

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